Twenty years ago, Mark Weiser published his seminal paper on ubiquitous computing in Scientific American, “The Computer in the 21st Century”. This remarkably prescient work predicts much of what’s becoming a reality today (and perhaps Apple’s iPad name is a tip-of-the-hat to Weiser’s taxonomy of tabs, pads, and boards). Yet this vision, along with Microsoft’s 2019 video have a homogeneity and sense of virtuality that does not capture the tangible, gritty, idiosyncratic, embodied, productive, and mythic character I hope for in The New Ecology of Things.
I think one of the most interesting challenges for interaction designers is to look beyond the screen, and imagine how we can help make digital life and work more engaged. We need to learn to design groups of computationally enhanced objects with interaction expressed not only through screens, but also through texture, kinetic behavior, haptics, sound, animism, light, and spatial location. This means bridging and synthesizing screen and tangible interactions in an evolved form of left+right brain, analytic+aesthetic, virtual+tactile Interaction Design.”