Interaction Design is all around us. It’s in the products we use everyday such as phones, computers, TV-remotes, video games, etc. The list is endless and from the very beginning when these products arrive in our life, the list of problems with them has also been endless. The aim of interaction design is to address these problems by looking at the consumer, and making it easier for them to use.
Nowadays technology is a very important part of our society, but with the advances in technology, there has been issues with complexity. Although a product may help solve a problem, it may not be used because it is too complex to use. People want simplicity and Interaction designers aim to produce products that are simple yet effective to use. Although this may be seen as the simple answer to what interaction design actually is, it is very hard to precisely define the subject.
A project called ‘This happened’ is a series of events trying to get across to people what interaction design actually is. It consists of a group of individuals, presenting a short speech to the audience about their project. The audience are given information about the final project before the event, so that they know what the individuals will be speaking about. Instead of the speakers talking about the finished project, they focus more on how they got there, the details of creating the product, in aim to get across what interaction design is.
Interaction design can be hard to define as it has only recently become popular. There are so many skills required by an interaction designer and it is still a wide area for debate. Interaction designers may not have specifically studied interaction design, but still see themselves as an interaction designer. In 2010 Ianus Keller, along with Kars Alfrank and Alexander Zeh organised “This happened Utrecht #7”. Ianus Keller himself is an interaction designer, yet he studied Industrial design and received his masters in 1995. From there, he went on to designing interfaces for Apple. After leaving Apple Ianus went onto build his own company ‘For inspiration only’. In 2005 Ianus created ‘The Cabinet’ which went on to win ‘the international design competition at the “third international conference on appliance design. Bristol’.
photo by: For inspiration only
‘The cabinet’ is a lightbox scanner that can print 2D and 3D objects onto a screen, with the idea that it would make it easier for designers to play around with images.
Interaction Design covers many different areas, products can be designed for a lot of uses. Ianus Keller designed products that he saw as tools in the design industry. ‘The Cabinet’ can be used by other designers to create things, as why it is seen as a tool.
“Tools are very important, to design tools is very different to design products”
“If you look at products from a tools perspective, users become makers” – Ianus Keller
Another approach is commercial products, such as ‘Pillow Talk’ designed by Jonanna Montgomery. Joanna is 24 a graduate from Dundee university’s Interaction design. She also studied a Master of Research in Digital Media at Culture Lab at the University of Newcastle. From there on she has started up her own company ‘Little Riot’, an interaction design company, to develop her project ‘Pillow Talk’. Pillow talk is an interactive product with the aim of connecting long distance lovers. It is the idea that each person has a pillow, and they wear a ring at night that feeds their heartbeat to their partners pillow, that sends a soft glow into the pillow.
This product is very different than ‘The Cabinet’, yet both are examples of interaction design.
As well as a commercial approach or a Tool designing approach, interaction design has been used to create products to help people. Such as the project ‘Active Surfaces’ a toy to use in the swimming pool to make it a place for rehabilitation and play for children with special needs. ‘Active surfaces’ is made up of interactive tiles that can locate the positioning of other tiles in the pool. The designer of this product is Patrizia Marti, an assistant Professor and senior researcher at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Siena where she teaches Human Computer Interaction and Design of Learning Technologies. She is also the co-founder of company ‘deep blue s.r.l’ a research and consulting company based in Rome, who aim to analyze, design and evaluate Interactive complex systems.
Interaction design is all around us, and has been evolving for many years. It helps us in so many ways in our day-to-day lives. I believe interaction design to be a way of making technology more effective for the user. Ianus Keller believed that Interaction design can be used to make tools, but these tools are also brilliant pieces of design. Take the Iphone, one of todays most well known interaction design products, yet it can also be used as a tool. From taking pictures to creating app’s for it, the iphone is just one example of how diverse Interaction design is. As long as technology is evolving, so will the interaction design industry.