September 2008 IxDA NYC: Dan Saffer’s Tap is the New Click

In the midst of everything last week, I attended Dan Saffer‘s presentation Wednesday night at the IxDA NYC monthly meet-up, hosted at the beautiful R/GA offices (I particularly like the gated courtyard/parking lot in front of the building).

Dan gave the same talk at Web 2.0 Expo NY earlier in the day, but I had missed it to see Jason Fried, and honestly I was more excited to see it among my interaction design colleagues. Unfortunately I had to bounce as soon as he finished his talk in order to make it to a family dinner, so I missed the 30+ minutes question and answer period. Still, I was incredibly impressed with the content, the obvious abundance of research that went into it, and the pared down, organized and clear way it was presented. This is just a small selection from Dan’s upcoming book titled, Interactive Gestures: Designing Gestural Interfaces coming out this fall. Pre-order it on Amazon now!

There’s a lot of interesting stuff here, and it’s important for us to know how the technology is evolving in order for us to be ready to design useful, usable and pleasurable interfaces for it in the near future.

My Twitter notes from the talk:

  • IxDA does NOT have membership dues (unlike most other organizations of its kind), but donations are welcome.
  • Overwhelming response for this talk. 100s were turned away
  • Public bathrooms are becoming interaction design labs. The “air blade” hand dryer, “unfortunately named product”
  • Touchless remote control from Bang & Olufsen. T-Mobile’s touch wall. Microsoft Sphere. All examples of “gestural interfaces”
  • Physics involved in representing how objects would actually move, but in a virtual space
  • Not surprising that we’re seeing these interfaces. We’re not meant to sit still at a desk. We’re designed for hunting/gathering
  • David Little: “We’re using bodies evolved for hunting…for tasks like word processing and spreadsheet tweaking”
  • “We’re in the midst of an interaction design revolution” — @odannyboy
  • How do we design for interactive gestures? Agenda: brief history, touch targets, documenting, prototyping, choosing appropriate gestures
  • HP 150 first touchscreen computer in 1983. VideoPlace, rooms w/ cameras, ppl could interact b/w. Simon, 1993, touchscreen mobile
  • Now, airline check-ins, vending machines. Two types of interactive gestures: touchscreen (aka TUI, single & multi), free-form (wide)
  • Free-form: the Clapper!
  • Wii-mote has multiple sensors for multiple gestures. Orientation, tilt, etc
  • Kinesiology & physiology: What can the physical body do?
  • Hands can do more than we give them credit for. Fingerpads, 8-10mm wide. Touch targets have to fit in that area
  • Fingers: fingernails (blessing & curve), fake ones (evil, plastic doesn’t conduct electricity), finger oil, prints, left-handedness
  • Accessibility issues, wrist support, gloves, inaccurate, attached to hand (aka screen coverage).
  • Be aware that user might not be able to rest their wrists. Fingers are inaccurate when compared to a cursor
  • Beware that the hand may cover over key elements on the screen. Labels should be above interface elements
  • 4 types of touchscreens: resistive (pressing 2 layers together creates event), surface wave, capacitive, infrared
  • Touch target size: Fitts’ Law still applies! Time it takes to get to target = distance to target / size of target
  • A quarter is 25mm, dime 18mm, keyboard 15mm, BlackBerry key 8mm, iPhone key 5mm
  • Iceberg tips: must hit specific point. Adaptive points: iPhone expands target of letter if it can guess that it’s your next letter
  • Traditional UI elements to watch out for: cursors, mouseovers/hovers, double-click, right-click, selected default buttons, undo
  • Touchscreens better to activate the event on *release* and not click
  • Gestural interfaces documentation is like dance notation. But annotated wireframes still work. More architectural. Keyframes
  • Sometimes easier to draw the action than to write it out, which could lead to misconceptions about how it’s supposed to work
  • More context, clarity: storyboards. Swim lanes framework (scenario, technical level, business level, etc). Animation for timing
  • Movies can demonstrate scenarios.
  • Prototyping gestures: low-fidelity (paper constructions) need “the man behind the curtain” to make it work. High-fidelity are exact
  • High-fidelity prototypes can use off-the-shelf products. DIY require electronics and industrial design, quite complex
  • Turning gestures into code: variables (what’s measured), data (from sensor), computation, patterns, action
  • Sensors need to convey presence (hey, I’m here) and instruction (this is how you use me)
  • Far away, observation is often how we learn to use it. Interaction, at a closer range, to figure out what we can do with it
  • “Attraction affordance” brings people into the interface in a low risk way, like the iPhone’s Unlock feature. Gets you involved
  • Written instruction: “Touch here to start” like on NYC Metrocard vending machines. You can actually touch anywhere to start!
  • Illustration: motion-activated paper towel dispenser shows you to wave. Demonstration: Wii shows how to make gesture in context
  • Determine appropriate gesture: available sensors and input devices, what task needs to be performed, physiology of human body.
  • ergonomics of human gestures: avoid hyperextensions and repetition, allow to relax muscles, etc.
  • Obvious but true: complicated gestures for more complicated actions
  • Naoto Fukasawa: “Best designs dissolve into behavior”

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  1. says

    Whitney – your blog blew up. this is awesome. Pleasure in Pain is a real resource for me, I'll be reading through the posts I missed over the next couple of days here.

  2. says

    hey i love the live tweets from web2 expo–they are cool b/c they are actual notes and not your personal editorials. this is not something people use twitter for very often


  1. […] September, I posted my notes from Dan Saffer’s fantastic talk “Tap is the New Click” at the monthly IxDA NYC […]

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