Convergence between interaction Design and robots design
Interestingly, we see more and more mentions of research about robots with regard to interaction design and user experience concerns. This is a good move (in the sense that if robots designers wants their products to be bought or "consumed" they need to pay attention to what users may do/wants/feel(/...) like with robots). Maybe this is due to the improvements of robots interface and the fact that the field is now growing from prototype to real (and affordable) products. There is an relevant paper about it in the last Interaction issue. In his column, Lars Erik Holmquist addresses this issue. First he states that tangible computing is thriving and may be a good way to interact with robots:
Consider that one of the most influential recent developments in human-computer interaction has been tangible interfaces—that is, computer input and output that is not just based on the standard screen, mouse and keyboard setup but instead involves a variety of physical and tangible input and output devices. If these interfaces are to support truly tangible output, they must be able to move or otherwise affect the world around them. And what else could we call a physically actuated, computer-controlled entity but a robot?
Then he introduces the convergence between robots and interaction design:
Basic research in robot communication is quite different from designing robotic products for real users. Fortunately, some interaction designers are already taking an interest in robots. For instance, in the People and Robots project at Carnegie Mellon University, interaction designers and robot researchers are exploring "robotic products," which they hope will be "intelligent, social, and able to assist us in our day-to-day needs." Carl diSalvo, a CMU Ph.D. student, has done some interesting work where ethnography and interaction design concepts were applied to robots. (...) At the Viktoria Institute we recently organized the workshop Designing Robot Applications for Everyday Use. Approximately 15 participants were an interesting mix of robot researchers and interaction designers who came from both industry and academia. The event served to spotlight the imminent convergence of robotics and other areas, including interaction design.
So now let's move forward and...
Meetings between robots and interaction designers will become even more frequent in the future. While Web pages and GUIs will always be an important part of the profession, designers who are aware of the potential of physically actuated products—call them robots or something else—will have a clear advantage over those who stay with the purely visual modes of interaction