|| |Yvonne Rogers
is the director of the Interaction Centre at UCL and a professor of Interaction Design. She is also the PI at UCL for the Intel Collaborative Research Institute on Sustainable Connected Cities which was launched in October 2012 as a joint collaboration with Imperial College. She is internationally renowned for her work in HCI and ubiquitous computing and, in particular, for her pioneering approach to innovation and ubiquitous learning. Her current research focuses on behavioural change, through augmenting everyday, learning and collaborative work activities with interactive technologies. She is a co-author of the definitive textbook on Interaction Design and HCI now in its 3rd edition that has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide She was recently awarded a prestigious EPSRC dream fellowship rethinking the relationship between ageing, computing and creativity. She is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and the ACM's CHI Academy.
Natural, Smart or Simple Interfaces: What Is Best? - There has been a lot of excitement over the last few years about the potential of new interfaces, especially natural ones. By natural, it is usually meant enabling people to interact with a computer in the same way as they interact with the physical world, by speaking with, gesturing to, moving their bodies in front of and making facial expressions at it. Likewise, there has been a lot of hype about smart technologies and how they can adapt to our needs and wishes. The vision behind these two rhetorics is a world that is designed to work for us - easy, efficient, informative, smooth and fluid. One where we don't have to learn procedures or mappings between input and output but instead, a wave or a smile is recognized for the intent behind it. The technology (because it understands, models and predicts) will know what we want and should do - be it to turn a digital page, change a TV channel, book a table at a restaurant, show us how healthy we are and so on. We will be told in advance of potential hazards and how to avoid them, or conversely new opportunties and how to exploit them, for example, if we have exceeded our recommended calorie intake or there is an interesting person at the party we should talk to. We won't ever have to worry, be stressed or wonder what next to do. Our everyday decision-making will be guided by ubiquitous technology.
Such utopian visions are nothing new. Tech companies, such as Apple, Microsoft and HP, have all made impressive glossy videos about future worlds, intended to inspire and direct their R&D. Mark Weiser's vision of calm technology has also been highly influential - epitomised by a world of serenity, comfort and heightened awareness, where computers would be everywhere, in our environments and even embedded in our bodies. Today, pervasive interfaces are abound that have the potential to transform how we live and connect. For example, it is now possible to detect and augment a diversity of user interactions, using low cost commercially available motion capture systems coupled with multi-modal realtime feedback. However, as Don Norman (2010) poignantly points out in his critique of how natural are natural interfaces, most gestures are not easy to learn or remember; they are also ephemeral and don't leave any trace. Waving frantically at a tap to turn the water on is a common everyday frustration. In contrast, old fashioned physical inputs, such as mice, keyboard, buttons, knobs, sliders and dials are universally understood and have proven to be easy to learn and remember for a whole range of GUI mappings and tasks. For many of us they were what we grew up with and arguably, are more natural that gesturing in thin air or speaking to a machine. In my talk, I will explore how to design and use the whole gamut of interfaces and interaction techniques to best effect. Rather than naively be guided by notions of natural or smart, I will present the case that we can learn a lot more from fundamental design principles that can be operationalized to empower and augment human capabilities beyond what we can achieve today. I will demonstrate how designing for “simple” is often key.
Moving beyond mindless technology - This course explores further the theme of which interfaces to design and why. Whereas in the first course the discussion was about designing for natural, smart or simple interfaces, the second course will begin by examining the worrying trend towards designing ever more technologies that promote mindless interaction. By this is meant living in a digital bubble. Even when physically together - as families and friends in our living rooms, outdoors and public places - we have our eyes glued to our own phones, tablets and laptops. The new generation of 'all about me' health and fitness gadgets, that is becoming more mainstream, is making it worse. Do we really need smart shoes that tell us when we are being lazy and glasses that tell us what we can and cannot eat? Is this what we want from technology - ever more forms of digital narcissism, virtual nagging and data addiction?
In contrast, the course will argue for a radical rethink of our relationship with future digital technologies. One that inspires us, through shared devices, tools and data, to be more creative, caring, playful and thoughtful of each other and our surrounding environments. It will consider how to design technologies that can help communities change their behaviour to be healthier, fitter, kinder and more mindful of others. An overview will be presented of how ambient, mobile and wearable technologies can be designed to provide situated and salient information.