Monday, July 30, 2007

The next UI breakthrough, physicality?


The Design of Future Things by Donald A. Norman

A discussion by Donald A. Norman on the passage from Graphical User Interfaces, especially command line based, to Tangible User Interfaces, in particular motion based interfaces.

Introduction
In my previous column I discussed the reemergence of command line language. Once these were the ways we used our operating systems and applications. Now they are reemerging within search engines. They are hidden and not easy to learn about, but I expect them to grow in power and, over time, become the dominant means of interaction.

In this column I will talk about a second trend, one that also has much earlier origins: the return to physical controls and devices. In the theoretical fields that underlie our field, this is called embodiment: See Paul Dourish’s book, Where the Action Is. But the trend is far more extensive than is covered by research on tangible objects, and somewhat different from the philosophical foundations implied by embodiment, so I use the term “physicality.”

Physicality: the return to physical devices, where we control things by physical body movement, by turning, moving, and manipulating appropriate mechanical devices.

Reference
Norman, D. A. 2007. The next UI breakthrough, part 2: physicality. interactions 14, 4 (Jul. 2007), 46-47.

Column on Command Line Interfaces available online

Full paper available at the ACM digital library

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