Let us go first with the development of human beings. There could be two clues to analyze the history of mankind. The first one is “extension”, or “ affordance”. According to Marshall McLuhan, the development of science and technology depends on the continuous substitution of men’s extension. When people afford moving on the wheels and rockets, we extend our legs; when people afford washing on washing machine, we extend our hands; when people afford watching on TV, we extend our eyes.
The second clue is “interaction”. Although interface, nowadays, “has a narrow range of meaning as a shared boundary across which two separate components of a computer system exchange information, ” as showed in the first Wikipedia’s entry of interface. From an etymological perspective, this word, in 1874, means “ a plane surface regarded as the common boundary of two bodies.” In its broadest sense and also the modern usage, this term, “interface is anything that connects two (or more) different systems across the boundaries of those systems. “
Basically, interface exists since the dawn of mankind. From the moment we use language to substitute the gesture. We can feel the interface between language system and gesture system. The sensory systems of human beings could interact with each other. From the moment we start to draw patterns on the pottery. We can perceive the interface between the aesthetic system and practical system. Outside systems which could fulfill different human needs could interact with each other. We then apply interface to the computational system. We also interact with other species: in the nomadism civilization, people interact with sheep, horses and dogs; in the agriculture civilization, people interact with rice and wheat; in the industrial civilization, people interact with oil and coal.And now, in the information era, with the help of WIMP (windows, icons, menus, and pointer devices), we can detect the interface between the human system and the computational system. Human beings and machine systems could interact. In the future, we will create more interfaces, for example, through recently the heated project “The Reality Editor”, we can read the interface between the computational system and the material system.
“The Reality Editor is a new kind of tool for empowering you to connect and manipulate the functionality of physical objects. Just point the camera of your smartphone at an object built with the Open Hybrid platform and its invisible capabilities will become visible for you to edit.” Drag a virtual line from one object to another and create a new relationship between these objects. With this simplicity, you are able to master the entire scope of connected objects. This tool could help users to maximize their strength, such as spatial coordination, muscle memory and tool-making. For example, it could help you to turn off the light in your bedroom without letting you to stand up and walk to the switch.
The interactions between human and human, human and object, and human and information will decide how this society operates. In the next step, I think the computing may focus on the small things, the details. The critical details can make the difference between a friendly experience and traumatic anxiety. A problem cannot be solved with the unhandled details. With the Internet, people are tagged. More specific targets mean more segments of the market, which requires better detail-optimization.
What is the difference between the HCI and interaction design?