What is Interaction?


How would you define physical interaction?

In The Art of Interactive Design, Chris Crawford defines interactivity that two actors would “listen, think, and speak” in a cyclic process. The borderline of defining physical interaction could easily fall into reaction, but reaction does not have continuum actions from somebody else. The example of reaction could be reading a book or watching a movie. Participation is also a one-way communication which there is no feedback, giving an example would be dancing to the music alone. Crawford emphasizes on the collaboration of two players, like the relationship between designer and user, which is very similar to my computational media project that a designer generates a canvas, and the user would have the ability to create a line or shape in this interactive canvas.

Moving and sliding 2D objects might seem to be an interaction. According to Victor’s definition in his blog, it should be a “dynamic medium that we can see, feel, and manipulate.” The interactivity should be aiming at the three-dimensional level, not just largely on “Pictures under glasses”.

Physical interaction, in my own definition, involves a loop of give and take. An action from a feedback to enhance the human capabilities.

What makes for good physical interaction?

A good physical interaction should amplify and take advantages of human capabilities in this natural and sensory world. I also think physical interaction does not limit to a finger gesture, and utilize our senses of smell, vision, feel and hear as well. A good quality of physical interaction would create an emotional response too.

I have experience a high level of physical interaction in MoMa’s Rain Room previously. The experience not just vision is memorable, you could control the rain by your hand, and you could hear the raining sound compatible with the rain simulation. The sensory experience also reminds me of memories and create a relaxed feeling.

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

Internet radio is a good example of digital technology, it broadcasts the news and information to listeners, but listeners would not interact or speak to a radio for conversation. I found that many non-interactive digital technology became our inspirations of interactive digital gadgets like Siri, the interaction of you speaking to a voice, and that voice will process your thinking and give results.

Wireless baby camera monitor is one of the gadgets that is not interactive, but for the information of parents to know if their baby is asleep or crying. The monitor updates the status for parents to know, but user could not interactive with the baby through the camera monitor.

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