Ishan Shapiro and I had the fortunate pleasure of speaking on a panel for The Era of Experience event held by Immersive Tech just last week. Among the attendees and speakers were folks from big companies like Disney Imagineering, to smaller players like Social Animal, all of whom shared deep insights around our future as interface designers and creators of sensory experiences.
John Underkoffler (the former M.I.T. wunderkind who created the amazing interfaces from the movie Artificial Intelligence and turned them into real-world applications) capped the evening off with words that really struck me with their power and simplicity; in an attempt to paraphrase:
“The most elegant, illustrative device in the world is the human hand. Why is it then, that we choose to wrap it around a mouse or confine it to a touchpad and render it sedentary and practically useless?”
He went on to say (something akin to)...
“Browsing was initially designed for connectivity, yet it has evolved into a barrier between people. For one, it makes us choose one path over another. For another, we typically get lost on the paths we choose.”
He concluded his speech with some very positive and inspirational thoughts about our evolutionary stance as intelligent beings, and how we will move past a dependency on browsing as a function, but rather something already inherent in the interactions facilitated by humans and machines.
Here are some ideas he sparked, many of which are in various forms of development, but concepts no less that can be explored in great depth:
Interface as creator.
The notion that screens – haptic, gestural, or otherwise – and their respective relationships to human movement and interaction become “intelligence banks” that can generate new or extended forms of interface experiences... Games, media, music, art, math, what have you.
Think: finding the “search” through interaction (not just having things suggested to you or predicted for you by way of perceived relevance).
Sentience as sensoral emotion (emotive cognition).
The notion that we can recalibrate our senses and develop new dimensions of them. Through our current use of technology and media, we have abated certain aspects of our human processing that taps into the emotional nerve centers of the brain. Now we can not only rebuild cognition to align around those areas, but we can also create ways for new emotional languages to emerge, things that lie beyond semantics, logic and even intuition.
Think: exchanging information – such as the way we query things in search or correspond through email or tweets – in a way that represents our “true” emotional states and intentions.
Collective sensory experiences: enhancement rather than augmentation?
This concept also ties into the idea that our collective interactions actually enhance our realities rather than merely augment them. You could even go so far to say that we could create an actual “sixth sense” or tap into 11 dimensions of reality.
Think: the exchange of senses such that it becomes a new form of “social currency”.
Building sensory trust.
Building off of the currency concept, weak ties can become strong ties through trust that is built almost entirely off of sensoral affinities that align the emotional with the rational.
Think: you can willingly go with your gut when making decisions, seeking information, processing it, developing it and/or sharing it.
Enabling sense anticipation.
Now that you can use emotions and senses to dimensionalize and contextualize forms of trust (a new kind of sense-making), imagine having the type of compass you could develop that could self-manage anxiety, or depression, or anger, or sadness.
Think: a personal operating system!