Tangible Computing at eTech

Even though I could not make it to eTEch 2005, there are plenty of ways to be aware of what happen there. Chris Heathcote and Matt Jones was one of the talk I would have attended. Both are very interesting people I just know from their blogs. Those guys work at Nokia and their 'recordable and distributable' talk is about Tangible Computing. Their slides could be downloaded here (.ppt). You can also find notes about their presentation here and here. Thank you for quoting P&V! Well, let's talk about the content. They first sketch the picture we have today: Ubiquitous computing is here, not evenly distributed, computers are everywhere, starting to talk to each other. The point is that after WIMP and overlapping windows all went downhill in terms of man-computer interaction. Users needs need new ways of controlling and understanding our digital world. The problem is that digital interactions are intangible because there are no natural affordances (see Gibson). BUT, there are NEW METHODS of interaction based on situations/touch/embodied interactions (= being in the world). THEN, they put a wide bunch of picture of Paul Dourish. They quote Dourish because the guy is one of the embodied interaction gurus. Dance Dance Revolution is a good example. Thus they present various new interfaces (Tablet PC., Smart furniture, All seeing eyes (EyeToy, AR, Human PacMan), Passive information displaye (Smart Object). They also mention NFC, near-field communications, something which I strongly believe in.

But then lies the important question: "what can we do with all that stuff?" It's all about gluing stuff together. If you are a regular reader of Chris' anti-mega, you have certainly stumbled across this glue thing. Basically, it's because computers make it easy to take inputs and manipulate.

I think they gave a proper and relevant presentation of today's situation, we have all this stuff: computers, devices, mobile things and on top of that we have webservices, interoperability, applications layers... so let's use those 2 layers to glue all our computer gizmos. I would just advocate for taking the end-user into account, trying to get what he/she does/needs/wants/dreams of...