A great example of smart interaction design: touch-free gestural interfaces for hospital displays:
“A sterile human-machine interface is of supreme importance because it is the means by which the surgeon controls medical information, avoiding patient contamination, the operating room (OR) and the other surgeons.” This could replace touch screens now used in many hospital operating rooms which must be sealed to prevent accumulation or spreading of contaminants and requires smooth surfaces that must be thoroughly cleaned after each procedure — but sometimes aren’t.
Interesting sidenote: the fact that we associate touch with contagion in our culture is encoded in the words we use. Contagion literally means “with touch.”
Shown last month at MoMA, the Mind Chair:
A movie camera is attached to an enhanced grid of 400 solenoids installed in the back of the Mind Chair. People are able to sit in the chair, close their eyes and concentrate on the images which are vibrated into their backs by the solenoids.
Also check out the variant called Mind Chair Polyprop, which seems like an effort to make a more practical, mass-producible version.
Estée Lauder and Lancôme will soon release vibrating mascaras that promise to coat eyelashes with black stuff in a way human hands could never do alone.
I blogged Gibson’s pretentiously named “Robot Guitar” a while back. I haven’t used it yet, but this video makes me think its interaction design is questionable.
Donald Norman might break it down like this:
- Pull out the “tuning knob,” which looks like a standard gain control and doesn’t look like it’s supposed to be pulled. In fact, when the knobs on normal guitars are pulled in this way they come off, so most guitarists have learned to avoid pulling on knobs.
- Make sure you’re not touching the neck or the tuning keys! You know, those things that look like they were made for human fingers to touch and that are an essential part of the manual interface to all other string instruments? Forget that, and instead keep this knowledge in your head: hands off.
- Strum the guitar several times. While you do this, crouch over your guitar so you can see the LEDs on the front of the tuning knob, which faces the audience.
- After a few strums, the LEDs change color. Now you’re “ready to rock.”
Meanwhile, Moog has extended the creative capabilities of electric guitars with innovative, elegant technology that may actually deserve the title “world’s first,” though Moog is confident enough in their product that they don’t bother with that kind of marketing nonsense. By feeding some of the output signal back into the strings, the instrument allows precise control of the envelope of the sound. “Infinite sustain” as well as banjo-like damping are both made possible. Powerful stuff.
Check out Intel’s prehensile manipulator with pre-touch sensing: