IoT Interaction Design

We discuss with Paddy Harrington, Architect and Designer, the evolution of Interaction Design in the new work of the Internet of Things.

IoT lacks the traditional input methods of interaction design and designing. Without a mouse and keyboard—and often without a persistent touchscreen—the new input is the user’s behavior itself.More

Since Tim Brown’s team reinvented design thinking and the emerging field of interaction design, the IoT has merged interactive mouse with man in a very symbiotic way. We do not need, or should not need to click to action our world.
How can we best apply “interaction design” to our physical world? @paddyharrington
I think the key is, and always has been, the story. What is the compelling reason to use these things? How do they enhance my life or inspire me in some way? The recent TED Microsoft Hololens is a great example of how a simple technology only really comes to life with a story.
We all aspire to the Star Trek Holodeck. Kipman in the TEDtalk says AR will replace the computer, smartphone and laptop screens we currently use. However, Google Glass failed because it was not seamless. Not part of our human interpersonal experience. Something felt wrong.
AR will work if it is integrated into the way we interact as people. Presently it seems that we are in “vinyl” phase of IoT. Just too clunky. NEST is well designed but as an “object” not as seamless part of our interactive experience. How can the the IoT be better designed?
There has to be basic utility in every ‘connected’ experience. Our office has EcoBee Thermostat, SmartAlarm Security, August Lock. All the promised features of the apps that come along with each product aren’t as useful as the products themselves. Or are they?
Based on my IoT experiences thus far, I think we may be expecting too much too soon. Once we get over the flash of it all and these devices simply become a part of our lives things should land where we all expect them too... they just make our lives simpler.
Here’s our office world of IoT.
Marty Cooper, the inventor of the first mobile phone (the 2.5lb Motorolla “brick” from the 80s) says “the future cell phone will be distributed on optimum locations on the user’s body and will automatically and continuously optimize its configuration.”
Surely with “design thinking” we can go beyond all these IoT gadgets and design for a more seamless human-centered experience - integrated more fluidly into our body? What would Tim Brown, the father of Design Thinking say?
Just like the rise of smart phones, you’d think that the IoT will start as a nebulous cloud at first, then be the domain of early adopters, then go through a phase of general backlash before common acceptance. It’s too early to tell, but there is a race to be the key platform.
I do believe that you are correct that we are going hit a IoT wall in the Gartner Hype Cycle. And platform standard as going to be a key barrier. But I still think that adoption will come from smart Interaction Design.
IoT lacks the traditional input methods of interaction design and designing. Without a mouse and keyboard—and often without a persistent touchscreen—the new input is the user’s behavior itself. IoT is incredibly human-centric design.
Isn’t IoT a profoundly different way of thinking? Doesn’t it presents a tremendous opportunity to shape the user experience and create enhanced value in ways that were never possible with traditional input methods?
There’s a scene in that terrible Johnny Depp movie Transcendence where he essentially imbues all matter with intelligence. That’s the Ray Kurzweil exponential end game. How we get there is uncertain. There is such incredible convergence and innovation right now.
The only thing that seems certain is that we need to remember the humanity in all these experiences. The ‘click of the well made box’. If it’s not something that offers intimate moments of tactile joy, then it won’t catch on. It’s all about the thoughtful design of interactions.
But do you need “tactile joy”? As Zack Dunn writes in the article below “Once a device connects to the internet, it doesn’t matter where the “brain” lives. There’s little reason for a thermostat to house its entire processing power on the wall.”
Yes, I fundamentally believe that you need tactile joy. Until we’re all uploaded in the cloud and fully disembodied, we depend on our bodies as our primary interface with the world. That said, Kurzweil says humans will be cloud based by 2045, so maybe we won’t need tactile joy!
We become the tactile joy. Kurzweil has always said that by 2029 we’ll have reverse engineered all regions of the brain. That will give us the algos to make software simulations - including all the emotional intelligence.
Sigmund Freud referred to man as a prosthetic god that likes to add “tactile” things to make him bigger and better. But Freud cautions that many “things” fail because they are clumsy add-ons. In Kurzweil’s singularity, there is no dichotomy between man and machine.
In exponential times we have to acknowledge the adjacent possible. To look too far up the curve is tricky. In nature, biospheres ensure their own survival by evolving and creating diversity within the conditions they are surrounded with.
And they do it as fast as they can get away with it. For me that means that the surest way to get to the next step is to do it in a way that embraces the current state but pushes the possibilities as far as we can.
So that means the IoT has to build a bridge between the body and the data that is tying everything together in a way that tangibly improves the human experience within current constraints. And one of those constraints is the joy that we’re capable of experiencing. Make it fun!
@paddyharrington To an era of tactile fun and tactile joy for all. Thanks for the wonderful discussion.