Bret Victor has a nice piece on the future of interactive design. He exhorts us to dream big and not just extrapolate. Amen.
He then points to a direction for future dreaming, pushing designers to encompass everything hands can do. This is a good starting point, but begs for further elaboration.
Like him, I love hands. I’d like to jump on board and give him a hand to push designers further.
Hands are not the central constraint in today’s interfaces (nor the future interfaces he describes).
The central constraint is peeking up at us at 9 seconds into the video he references. It’s our eyes.
Interface is about navigation and way-finding. Current device interfaces rely on sight for us to find our way through the digital maze. Good design clarifies the path and helps us recognize patterns that can point us to further capabilities. Hands help us move visual information – the pictures under glass Bret discusses.
Future interfaces will be driven by new methods of “display.”
For us to use our hands to navigate, to interface with capabilities (in the way we tie our shoes, for example) the information has to be “displayed/embedded/be one with” the objects we’re using as way-points and manipulating (in this case the lace has weight, dimensionality, material characteristics).
As a side note, this may be coming faster than we think, with information gaining ubiquity and intertwingling into the physical word.