where is Interaction Design going?

Interaction Design…what is it, where is it going, why is it so damn cool?

Interaction Design is such an amazing industry, yet it appears to only happen in exhibitions, and short installations currently. From my understanding, interaction Design is very similiar to Experience design since both require an element of time.

What is the future in Interaction Design?
What are great samples of Interaction Design?
Is Interaction Design different than HCI?
Any links to great “iD” sites?

Only in exhibitions and installations? You might be thinking of something else… The vast majority of interaction design is on the web, and the rest can be found in consumer and specialty electronics. From digital cameras to alarm clocks to ATM machines to video games…

I’m not sure what you mean by XD also requiring an element of time. I don’t think it does any more than any other design discipline… Can you clarify?

Those are all excellent questions. I think the largest growth opportunities lie in entertainment and social applications. Right now, much of the growth stems from products becoming virtualized in software.

Great examples?

  • The WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) desktop metaphor
    Amazon’s “one click checkout.” Beneficial to both user and Amazon.
    Palm’s “grafitti” which solved the handwriting recognition problem in a new way.
    Gestural interfaces (like Alias’ “marking menus”)
    Everquest (MMORPG’s)
    Tickle-me Elmo
    The Philips home defibrillator that talks to you
    Ambient Devices like the Executive Dashboard
    Those car-seat adjusters in the shape of a car seat
    New tech enablers like Tivo, Match.com, in-dash GPS mapping, eBay, digital cameras, Blogger, Friendster…

Is ID different than HCI? Yes, because ID doesn’t require the “C” part of that acronym. (Take the car seat adjuster example.)

Some sites:


I guess when i mention Interaction Design, I do not refer as much to the interface, GUI, type of iD as much… my huge interest is more in the environmental, spacial, services, type of “iD”… samples i can think of are in some of IDEO work, “extra spacial”, anteanna design has a few experimental ones, and lots from RCA, and IDII over in europe.

I definetly do agree with you that there is a bunch of iD in the web and small electronics, but i think the NEW iD is geared more towrds larger spaces, and services… perhaps more sensorial Design… hmmm. www.nathan.com he has a bunch of stuff on iD.

CG, thanks for the links…i’ll check them out… if you are into this iD thing, check out this book i just bought…it rocks…


“Themed Interactive Environments” or “Interactive Art” might be better descriptors for what you’re talking about. Definitely a sub-set of iD.

Since design is driven by commerce, the 2 places you’re most likely to find them is in Retail and Exhibit-design.

I tend to think that theme-parks and Vegas Casinos are living on the cutting edge, albeit in consumer-friendly packages… So that would have to make Orlando and Las Vegas the world-capitals. :wink:

Some influencers:



The media lab and IDII (interaction-Ivrea) are definete examples of where the future of “iD” is going, i believe… ITP nyc, RCA, and a few others are following this path, though I am still confused about where the industry is headed…

"Interactive Environments " is very intriging, though i still see that a huge part of interaction Design…

Is iD a path that mainly ID(industrial Design) firms are adding to their services (IDEO, Ziba, Antenna, etc) or are all firms competing for this division, such as architectural firms, OMA, Rem, Pentagram, etc.?

Perhaps there is no right or wrong answer… i guess I am just trying to see who else in the “ID” world (coroflot) is all hyped up about “iD” as I am. It would be great if this "Interaction Design " post grew, as I have a strong belief that the future of interactionDesign will play a large role in IndustrialDesign. (relating products into environments more, creating services, and calculated experiences)


heres a great article in business week about design and its transition.

Some ID shops are picking up Interaction Design–usually specific to product interaction design. But the VAST majority of it is done by pure-play web-design shops or software development shops that include iD as a sub-specialty. Razorfish, Sapient, Microsoft etc…

In my experience, iD is made up of about…
5% Industrial Designers
25% Graphic Designers/Media Designers
30% Software Engineers
10% HCI or HF professionals
30% Self-taught

You might be misled about what Interaction Design is really about. It’s quite large and has been around for quite some time. The specific references you make are more about the experimental side of iD–a tiny niche but a lot of wow-factor.

yeah, i think you hit me right on the spot…it’s(iD) an exciting field that i hope expands further into the ID field…But since your in the Experience Business, perhaps you woud know better… “Experience Design”…thats another topic that I have looked into…but how am i suppose to get into tha.t…I’ve checked out Josh Rubin, Nathan.com , and mr Wurmen for these subject matters…any other suggestions, readings, links?

thanks again for the links and thoughts…rock n roll!

I’m with you. I’ve always found my interests to lie at the intersection of technology and design, so interfaces, experiences, and (virtual) interactivity have become big interests for me in the past few years.

Obviously I get amped by the experimental/art-based projects like the Media Lab, Ivrea, and others are doing-- but I think what’s really exciting is that I can see practical applications stemming from these “Themed Interactive Environments”. An example of a product ‘bridging the gap’ might be the aforementioned Ambient Devices. Their earlier explorations were more ‘art-based’-- (the glowing orbs) but the executive dashboard hit the nail on the head and is gaining a lot of attention.

Maybe another example of business applications for abstact UI design could be pressure sensitive surafaces. I remember seeing experimental projects like this one, and thinking that they were interesting, but maybe not marketable. Recentrly I stumbled across “Ztiles”, a research project that could lead to all kinds of interesting interactive environments… think “Smart Homes”.

Another example would be a version of the motion-based interface used by Tom Cruise in Minority Report showing up in real life on ABC’s election coverage.

Anyway-- I’m with you, I’m really getting excited about the possibilities. Interactive Environments is truly exciting stuff, and the best part is that the practical applications of the technology is the designer’s job to figure out!

the biggest innovations in the interaction design will happen through the gaming industry because there’s a lot of room for experimentation.

in addition the gaming ports will become virtual graphics laboratories for those inside and outside the industry with extremely creative and diverse ideas because they’re readily available to both consumers and potential implementors.

the best thing about it though is that it comes with an integrated and sometimes imaginative virtual reality that you won’t find in true user environments. that’s a critical point for software development because in real life we seldom want to experiment with ultra theoretical concepts.

Yeah I totally agree.

The Unreal Engine might just be the ultimate UI designers plaything.

They’re running a contest right now with nVidia to “create something Unreal” to the tune of a million bucks. I haven’t seen any other UI competitions with that kinda cash or publicity!

you know there’s an UnrealEd to X3D convertor. includes sound and the rest. cheap way to play with VR. still waiting for Firefox plugins myself. not interested in draggin IE back out.

If you dig those, check out the Ambient Atmos

hi everyone,
i really dont want to sound ignorant.but
what is HCI or HF professionals ?? what is experience design??
can someone just give me a simple clue?
i have never heard of this terms before…
and from my little little experience as a student
i had my senior art exhibition back in April
and it was when i knew nth about interaction design…
i just made a piece [ intestine like sofa in red laying in the lobby] that
audience can play with or particapate.
I think that people are getting sick of “being told to do sth” and i think as a designer/artist , it’s really intersting to create something and encourage other’s creativity…like after my show, everyone came to me like “yeh maybe i would do apply the idea to my new project and make it look intersting…”
well i hope i didnt type too mcuh non sense words… :blush:

In the day of Google, there’s no reason to “sound ignorant”. In the time it took you to type that message, you can search for info on Experience design, HCI, and HF. Check those links out, and then check back here.

Some links that you might be interested in.


Sweetness…thanks for the links… i’ve bookmarked most of them…
send more if you have any.

this is the best site for finding projects that exploit technology into design:


on my top five daily feeds :smiley:

Ebuhloone, thanks for your links…
Within those, I’ve actually discovered a very intersting book on interactive kinetic architecture at www.aiborg.net/leisuratorbook . As I read it, i will post few reflections…

just wanted to pitch and compliment this great thread as it is close to my heart. I guess interaction design has become a description for a variety of job titles all defined by their different contexts, which is confusing.

For instance this description, taken from a web design agency of reknown ( actually started in 1977) refers to the trad. information design role which comes from software dev. rather than bastardization of it to mean "design training with strong typographical, motion graphic and interaction design skills. "

Interaction Designer

Duties and Responsibilities
Interaction designers must understand and refine client strategy and develop content and functionality that meets both client objectives and user goals. They must collaborate with visual designers and programmers to develop information architecture and user interfaces, and create proposals, functional specification, flowcharts, and schematics. Interaction designers act as the “user’s advocate” and are responsible for conceptual development.

Qualified people have 2-3 years experience developing interactive products, a thorough understanding of user-centered design principles, client presentation skills, writing skills, and experience organizing complex information. Familiarity with principles of Web development as well as Illustrator and Visio is essential.

Anyway aside from this i had experience in interaction design while working as a cook at a strange restaurant in Amsterdam:Supperclub where food/fashion, design/theatre-spectacle/music / formal plan or more often spontaneous was the order of the day. Very different to Ivrea, Medialab europe, experience in terms of process and outcome.

“interaction design” education like Ivrea with some inspiration training and the odd visit from some CEO from an important company. Big PR, some cool research, rarely a cool product, although maybe that happens post- training. My experience is that they are great at the “blue sky” part of the equation, while worse on “landing” something that can enter the market.


there has been some really interesting projects here to check out. it’s amazing where the interaction design field is leading itself. the only thing i’d like to be able to find, but can’t seem to is this idea i have had on how the concept of water can act as a digital metaphor for flowing information in a space such as a library or other information based discipline…

i have heard there was a very interesting installation at the mit media lab done by a fellow of chistopher small…can’t seem to locate anything on that, does any know of projects that experiment with the idea of interaction and flowing water for information purposes??