I guess were it comes down to is to invent some kind of automation which makes sense in the first place. Full futuristic smart house automation doesn't makes sense to me, there are just too many possible scenarios in which it gets annoying and above all undesirable. Even if that happens in 1% of all cases. It's like a chain of events which get triggered by one action. I more believe in a logical relationship between two objects which are related in a daily ritual.
When I read the assigment I immediately had to think of this solution, gosh I wished I'd invented that one: http://www.sonyericsson.com/putyourearsincontrol/
The idea is that when you're listening to music and you take out one or both headphones, the music pauses. GREAT idea! Philips also did similar conceptual work by the way.
One questions though on the assignment, are multiple submissions allowed?
Oh definitely- a totally automated house is way too much of a leap from where we are now, it was pretty much the first thing that came to mind which I thought helped explain an implicit interaction. The headphone idea is genius- I've seen a few other mobile implicit interactions:
1. A phone that goes into sleep mode when turned upside down- when we put our phone in our pocket, it is implied that it is no longer in use
2. the iPod headphone Jack- I use this one all the time: Waking the iPod up is a lot more work than simply pulling out the headphones. When headphones are taken out, the iPod instantly pauses your music without waking up, a sort of understanding that you no longer are listening to music.
3. Palm Touchstone- when you come home from school/work, fiddling with wires is the last thing you want to do. Instead, you can just toss your phone onto a plate (well... place gently...) and let it sync/charge.
4. Microsoft surface- this one you're going to have to google, as it created a boat-load of awesome implicit interactions
As we get more used to these simpler "product" interactions (simple might be the wrong word... more intuitive? more natural? more obvious? All of those?), location/environment interactions may start to pop up. The technology is certainly doable, and with an assurance of no access to private data (no big brother is watching you feeling... and once again off the top of my head.. so not too much thought into these):
1. An interactive movie theatre- upon entry into the theatre room, your phone immediately turns to silent and upon leaving it is immediately returned back to normal. If an alarm goes off (a silent robber alarm or a fire alarm or weather alert etc,), all features are restored. It might be able to prevent outgoing calls as well, with a friendly message of "please leave the theater to place your call". Also, cameras could be disabled to prevent piracy?
2. An interactive conference room/classroom- each room can have communication standards set prior to a meeting, and for a certain time. This would allow you disable your phone's ringer like the theatre, but can also apply to other devices, like a laptop. If you're giving a presentation, the communication standard could prevent any disruption in the presentation from email alerts to software updates. For classrooms (I'm thinking back to high school right now)- you can enable not only web-bockers but application blockers. Instead of blocking out certain websites on the internet, you can prevent the application from being open in the first place. Like the office, these could be set per-classroom. So if one class wants to do online research, all applications are fine. But if you're in the middle of a history lecture, the teacher could disable all apps except text editors.... that means no more solitaire or minesweeper
3. Interactive theme parks/museums- as more and more people begin to have smart phones (well, app phones- I use this term for phones that can run a plethora of different applications), maps, virtual tickets, and planning guides (so you can set up your day in terms of rides or exhibits before you even arrive) could be sent straight to your device- in fact they already are. But this could be taken a step further, with, for example, as you approach an artwork, its information is sent straight to your device, and taken away once you leave. Interactive maps could detect where you've been and where you want to go based on your planning, and give you mapquest-esque directions right on your device (e.g. turn left at the rodin sculpture, and enter the blue building. This is the impressionist center- down the hall on your right is an elevator, go up to floor three, and the art you were looking for is in the second gallery). Personalized directions can be made per-park/attraction/museum.
I think I'm getting a little far from the original prompt with these ideas- but I think a step beyond simple product gestural interfaces is an environment of these interfaces (which is pretty much what Atohms said... didnt even realize it haha). They're kinda scary in that they seem to limit what we do depending on where we are, and anyone could install them anywhere, so obviously some type of secure/approval system would need to be in place. These interactions are not replacing anybody or anything in particular, so no robot apocalypse would result from these interfaces. Rather, they help create a better environment, which in the end, creates a better experience (unless you're one of those [jerks] who enjoy talking on their phone during a movie).