ITP Blog

Physical Computing - Week 1: Introduction

How would you define physical interaction?

As Defined by Crawford, Interaction is like a conversation between two actors and it is all about input, process, and output. Physical interaction is like a conversation between microcontrollers and human being. We human being, are asked to talk with microcontrollers, using actions, postures, simple languages or changing the environment around us as a medium. On the other side of the conversation, microcontrollers listen to human beings with various sensors. These two parts together defined the physical part of physical interaction.

However, talk and listen is not enough for interaction. In physical interaction, microcontrollers are more like a child of the physical interaction designer. They are educated to process the information gathered by sensors and output in a way that the same kind of their fathers or mothers can understand. I would like to call the design and development of physical interaction pieces education, which we raise our children, physical interaction pieces, and teach them to think, to speak the language, and to act like someone can be treated seriously.


What makes for good physical interaction?

I think good physical interaction should consider and create higher interactivity. That means the sensors listen to their audiences more previously or in a natural way make you feel like you are talking with a real person not a so-called alien entity by Crawford, and you are acting like you born with this method to communicate by Bret.

Secondly, the processing part of the microcontrollers should be real time and logic, which create the engagement for both sides of the conversation between human and physical interaction pieces. I believe that a good interaction should create an experience that is much different to the exhibition experience, in which people only try the physical interaction pieces and touch them rather than talk to them with all kinds of your sense abilities.

Last but not least, talking is not a single sentence. A good physical interaction has the algorithm that gives feedback continually like a real talking which arises the desire of human being to stay with a good physical interaction piece and comprehend it.


Are there works from others that you would say are good examples of digital technology that are not interactive?

VR film, it is digital technological but not interactive. But it’s due to the film aspect. I believe the VR technology have large potential in interactivity.To be honest, after reading assignment I am still a little confused about interactivity on specific cases. For instances, photography and wearable

To be honest, after reading assignment I am still a little confused about interactivity on specific cases. For instances, photography and wearable bonds or watches. Photography has the full cycle of conversation but it seems like we are talking with ourselves while using the camera and checking the photos. The wearable bonds is another story. They do work through sensors and output infographics and some may even give tips according to our movements. Though we can react to these bonds but I am considering the engagement part. In fact, our data and activities are cateched in an unconscious way while we are doing other events. It’s more like surveillance. So in my opinion, I wouldn’t call that engagement or interactivity.