Human Computer Interaction is something we can no longer ignore or disregard as science fiction. It's happening now. From the 'gorllia arm' (i.e. from google glasses) to the 'mobile chin', the gap is closing between digital technologies and our bodies. Issues around embodiment which have previously nested in the metaphysical space of philosophy are coming to life in-the-world as technology becomes increasingly complex, transparent and intelligent.
We have cameras that can take 3d images without a lens, and printers that print human tissue, not to mention robot surgeons! We have computers which can read human gestures, there is a new vocabulary being realised between man and machine and I am interested in how this is being designed.
But where's the innovation at? again, for uptake and adoption these guys are playing it safe. It's the same forumla - mimic, mimic, mimic - you can read the pattern - it's how money is made, new technology it seems is not too far removed from the Hollywood blockbuster.
Design is as much about power and control than freedom, 'freedom' and 'choice' are the words used to re-enforce a neo-liberal movement. You have a 'choice' to buy an IPOD TOUCH, you can touch what we let you touch in the way we have pre-determined for you to touch it. (infact we will even patent that type of touch)
"because there is so much benefit in the physical world, we should take great care before unreflectively replacing it"
There is a phenomenology in design that only gets realised through UCD and testing. Is this phenomenology/qualia changing as our bodies and the virtual grow closer? what effect does this have? and how much agency are we allowing the user? Over time, what effects will arise mentally and physically, and how will this shape our world? What have we really changed or learnt from? How much of this is socially constructed and how much is constructed for the social? Risk is having to choose an action which cannot be undone while the consequences of the action are not fully knowable ahead of time, yet with the challenges of risk come opportunities for more trusting, committed, responsible and focused interactions.
"when compared to other human operated machinery (such as the automobile), todays computer systems make extremely poor use of the potential of the humans sensroy and motor systems. The controls on the average usre's shower are probably better human-engineered than those of the computer on which far more time is spent" - Bill Buxton
I agree with the above quote. HCI my friends, is behind the times (*ahem or purposefully held back*), this is what makes it exciting from a design point of view - it's still shaping up. Google glasses may be a clonky step forward of extension of self, but it is a step forward.
Thinking through doing and theories of embodied cognition need to be a driving factor in the interaction design of these 'new' technologies. Can we allow and enhance elemnts of discovery and play, will we let the user manipulate? Is tangibility necessarily a good investment? how can we prioritise visibility to support collaboration and coordination? UX is suddenly cool again.
When it comes to me and my body, my identity - my life - I think as an individual. An individual with a desire to connect with the external. But at what cost to my self?