where is Interaction Design going?

I believe what you are looking for is DAVID SMALL, at small design… he did a water fountain projectionpiece over at the museum over here…he has some damn sweet projects over at http://www.davidsmall.com/

check it out…i’m not that big on the fountain project after i went to visit it, but he has some other great projects and is reallly smart after talking to him at the mediaLab.


Ray Kurzweil is an interesting fellow who has a website for various things related to the frontiers of science. However lots of it has to do with where culture, computing and the future of computer-mediated human experiences and interactions meet.


Is there a problem to be solved?
If not, does it qualify as Interactive art?

In my opinion ID is a bit new to really be filtering out into a lot of practical use, a lot of the core technologies still need some work I think before they’re ready for world-spanning prime time.

BUT, when we get there, I think Interactive Design will probably touch everything else that gets designed, as they figure out more and more ways to integrate it and solve problems with the technology.

One aspect I’m currently interested in (because I just did a paper on it…) is the concept of a fully interactive office space, with common tasks integrated into the environment. right now, a lot of tasks that are central to the room are seperate from it, a phone, a lamp, a computer and a monitor all existing as seperate objects, even though they’re integral to the purpose of the environment. If you put those functions into the room itself, along with a few other neat ergonomic tricks (ambient adjusting lighting, ect.) I think you’d end up a lot more functional, as well as ‘purpose oriented’

the idea of a space that ‘shifts’ by purpose, on its own, without the need to drag around chairs and adjust other features is kinda cool too.

I’m really interested in the idea of places being defined by purpose, not by space or artificial deliniations myself.

if you want to see new technologies you should check out

Some cool large format interactive display solutions. this is the future.

the future is a flat device you touch?

I think you’ll find that most jobs these days that get into the interactive-experience range of things really aren’t looking for “designers” as most people in the ID field normally think of them.

I mean a great example is that of the web designer. When I started school for design you could be a web designer just by knowing HTML tables, photoshop, and a handfull of Javascript. But within five years that whole notion was completely blown out of the water to the point that most graphic designers or industrial designers could not even qualify for the basic requirements of the job posting.

Just look at any of the job postings for entry level gigs at Yahoo or other well known tech companies. They might say that they are looking for an “interactive designer” but look through the requirements and it becomes clear that they are really looking for a technically proficient programmer with a sense of style. A recent web design job required: XHTML, XML, AJAX, Ruby, CSS2, RSS, Javascript, Java, PHP,.ASP, and MySQL.

For higher paying levels they wanted experience in C++, C# (C-sharp from Micro$oft), and other .Net experience which essentially means that they are looking for someone who graduated from a Computer Science or Electrical Engineering program and not someone who went to art school for a bachelors degree.

If you are really looking to get involved in the “tech” end of things and work in interaction then you really need to look at moving away from ID and more to CS. But ideally you do want a balance of the two so an undergrad in CS and a masters in ID would probably be a good way to go.

Agreed, the majority of my Interaction Design applicants are actually Interface/Interactive Developers who don’t recognize the difference. The dot-com boom flooded the market with “Web Designers” just like the Mac flooded the market with “Desktop Publishers.”

interaction design has to do with the actual involvment between the designer and the consumers. It’s the bussiness side of design in a way.
How we as designers work with and for the consumers to improve the design of products.

There have be many different definitions of interaction design spanning the last 2 decades and the field has been transforming continuously. The very term was first defined by Bill Moggridge. Recently when he happened to be one of our examiners at IDII he commented on how the practice of interaction design has been transforming based on the trends in technology and social behaviors but very core of the practice remained very much rooted in the design of behaviors and experiences.
I have been brooding over this subject for a while and in the more holistic sense today interaction design encompasses a wide array of activities that typically (and not completely) cover Graphical interfaces, Tangible interfaces, Spatial interfaces and Services. Amongst many other things some of core skills of interaction designers lie in the design of interfaces, proficiency in several user centered investigative techniques, analysis and synthesis of user needs and last but not the least the capability to design the manifestation of the behavior / experience in the form of a GUI / TUI / conceptual framework (i.e Information architecture / business model etc ). Many interaction designers come from related backgrounds like industrial design, graphic design, computer science etc and dwell upon these previous experiences to shape their career paths. In the words of Phil Tabor ‘interaction design education is more often transformative rather that incremental in terms of skills, outlook and design processes’.

In a discussion with my friend Oren Horev an interesting point emerged about the distinction of interaction design. Amongst all other classical design disciplines, interaction designers are not forced to think of their solutions in terms of products, graphics or any other singular medium. This in particular liberates the designer and enables focus on the quality of the experience and its impact. Thus it also automatically enables the interaction designer to think lot more strategically and forces them to work in collaborative teams with other professionals. Coincidentally this sense of freedom to design ideal solutions attracts designers who are driven equally by innovation as much as aesthetics.

Today in industry a lot of interaction designers work in the design of screen or software based solutions, some work in the design of products etc and relatively smaller number work in the design of services and strategic solutions. Of-course the more subjectively inclined also do some very interesting work in the form of interactive art and installations. What ever the form of practice, companies have begun to realize the potential of the field and the need for interaction designers both as specialists and generalists.

We the promotional team at CIID have been trying to answer such questions and much more as part of the design of a new curriculum for interaction design education and any feedback would be welcome.

Wow, I’m digging up a thread from the dead here huh?

Anyway, what mmjohns said above pretty much hits the nail on the head. I have a degree in Industrial Design, I have 2 years of “practical application” of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark Express skills. I have this “I can do Graphic and Web Design” kind of “can do” mentality, and I’ve thought of “switching over” by investing some time taking more classes in Interaction Design or Interactive Media. The problem I’m seeing, is what he was saying above. It used to be that you could have a basic grasp of HTML, javascript, and graphics programs and you were okay. What I’m seeing in reality is that mmjohns is right, the ideal would be to be a CS person with a graphic design sensibility, and a good intuitive design driven thought process.

Other then making archiac “pong like” animations in C++ back in HS in 1996, I have no programing experience what so ever. :frowning: I have thought about making “lemonade from lemons” and going to school part time while I look for a new job. I’m looking into different Interacive Media programs in Chicago right now, and I’m realizing that it’s the normal paradigm for college courses; there is no classes that JUST focus on specific programs, they fold the whole skill set in and work progressively through a cirriculm. On one hand, I feel like I’d be better off going part time to college, covering my ass for living expenses by taking loans, and quitting after a semester if I found a good Industrial Design job in that time frame. I would be doing this in the hopes that what I learned could be useful enough to pick up some basic freelance work in graphic and web design.

At the same time, if I started taking Interactive Media or Interaction Design courses and found it to be stimulating and interesting to me, I might continue to pursue them on a part time basis. I guess I need to determine how much effort and programing knowledge it really would take, considering that I have none at this point.

Industrial Design is not Engineering
Architecture is not Construction
Interaction Design is not Software Engineering (or Interface Design)

I think you’ll find your answer in reading Alan Cooper’s “The Inmates are Running the Asylum.” Does the world really need more software engineers that can do Photoshop?!

I KNEW there was a difference between “Interaction Design” and “Human Computer Interaction.”

I just didn’t know it was called “Human Computer Interaction.”

cg: thanks! this really clarified things for me. wow.

The simple answer to this thread is that interaction design is going wherever it’s practitioners will take it. In the place where I’m working at the moment, for example, we have stopped reinventing the wheel and now we’re looking for re purposing standard solutions where millions of dollars were already spent on developing them. A lot like trying to convert a spoon into a fork. It’s the best business strategy which suits our company best.

So to conclude, interaction design is following it’s master company’s business strategy. Sure, there will be individuals in universities who will be developing totally off-the-wall principles, but only a small percentage of these will end up in industry. Just keep on looking at developments in contemporary industry-standard solutions and that’s how interaction design will go.

I would like to have a career being what Donald Norman describes in his book “The Design of Future Things”. Where, in his book, he describes the house that “wakes up” when you wake up: when you walk down the hall, the lights come on, and when you go to make eggs, the fridge tells you that you can’t because the toilet has been taking urine samples and so you can’t eat the eggs because your cholesterol is too high, haha. I’d love to be responsible for creating that. It is like psychology, sociology and design combined – just a few of my favorite things.

That’d be such a sweet job. Reminds me of Hal in “2001: A Space Odyessy”, type deal. Hal is super freaky, but a career in that kind of work is just awe-inspiring to me.