Interaction Design (IxD)


Introduction

The term Interaction Design (IxD) is one that is widely misunderstood, even by those in the design and technology industries. The most common mistake is a principal association with screen-based interactions, such as mobile phone menus and in-game interfaces, itself correctly defined as UI/UX. Although IxD can include the aforementioned spheres the core business of the discipline is understanding human behaviour, specifically in technologically mediated environments. In the context of definitions IxD is ‘the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services’ (Reimann, Robert; Cronin, Dave, 2007) and it’s core ideology is to assess and cater for the needs of a human user. This human focus differs from software engineering, for example, where technical attainment is the principal concern. The design element of the term IxD comes from the fact it is associated with ‘what might or could be’ rather than ‘what is’ e.g. as an architect may design new techniques and a construction manager may use existing techniques.

My academic background within the Interaction Design field is associated with the design and investigation of environments. The two most distinct are; technologically mediated virtual environments and, conversely, technologically mediated physical environments. The aforementioned definitions may initially appear complex but actually they are quite simple; an example of the first could be the design of a VLE (see the Learning Technology page) and the latter could be the design of an interactive installation. In succinct terms the key difference is that a virtual environment is experienced by a human user in the ‘third person’ e.g. online via a digital device and a physical environment is experienced in the ‘first person’ e.g. in the real world. More can be found on IxD theory on the Research page which is grounded in my Masters in Interactive Media, with examples of my own Interaction Design featured below.

Hybrid Vision POI System 

In 2011 I received a European Regional Development Fund award for my Interaction Design and subsequently led the development of a digital system ‘to isolate and activate viewable entities within streamed video content for the purpose of information gathering and commerce’. I led the Point of Interest project through my research & development company, Hybrid Vision Ltd. I directed technical specification, product design and a fully functional prototype and successfully led a hand-picked team. I personally met with Saatchi & Saatchi LondonInition/Holition London and had extended relations with Wessex Ventures regarding commercial implementation. Working closely with Barker Brettell LLP I submitted a U.K. Patent Application for a ‘computer-implemented invention’. Funding to suitably secure intellectual property expired however the project remains active in a research context. The images above show some of the POI system concept art, technical illustrations and frames from the software prototype as an example of my IxD in a technologically mediated virtual environment. For more information please use the Contact page.

Interactive Installation

Below are examples of my Interaction Design proof of concepts where participant’s immediate surroundings are made interactive through the design, implementation and combination of technologies that react to human presence and behaviour.

A Study of Interaction

This installation explores the nature of human-computer interaction through an experimental proof of concept technology. The aim was to create a system where a human participant was able to interact with a three dimensional representation of a another human face. The participant would be able to converse in real-time and the representation would similarly be able to see and hear physically distant participants as if both where located in the same physical space. Additionally, by utilising an optical illusion achieved through face casting and vacuum-forming processes, the face would appear to follow participants in the space. Equally, regardless of how many participants were present in the space or their position at any given time, each individual would perceive the face to be looking directly at them. The aim of the aforementioned IxD technique was to explore how facial representation and eye contact during mediated interactions can positively augment communicative experiences for human users. Additionally the installation raises questions about the future use of facial representation for robots designed to interact with humans.

Mediated Flesh

“Mediated Flesh is a short interactive installation film that unfolds in a designed space reminiscent of the White Cube (Brian O’Doherty,1976); a space devoid of extraneous sensory input and indifferent to the ravages of time. Here, the mergence of human entities are explored when flesh is mediated by projected light and other digital technologies.”

Mediated Flesh is currently part of a worldwide limited edition of 25 signed copies and is represented by agent Christian Pouligo.