The interface just left the desktop

Alan Dix
Lancaster University

Talk given at Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal. 26th September 2003.

Alan in a party hat


The talk draws on material from chapters 3 and 18 of the third edition of Human Computer Interaction (Dix, Finlay, Abowd and Beale).
Instituto Superior Técnico
Universidade Técnica de Lisboa
Alan's research page on Incidental interaction
Deconstructing Experience - pulling crackers apart - chapter from Funology book
short paper about crackers at Computers and Fun 2001

send a cracker

download slides (PDF, 1.37M)
A video of the talk can be seen at
Unfortunately Windows only :-( ... uses active X component for windows media player 9
Fotos of the talk

For nearly fifteen years the focus of user interface design has been on desktop interaction in offices and other 'work' environments. However, over the last few years this has changed. The combination of the web and falling costs of computers have meant that home markets and non-work uses are becoming the driving applications. Mobile access and ubiquitous computing are also taking computers away from desktops and into the everyday environment. Some of these changes are merely about who and where systems are being used, but do not affect the fundamentals of good interface design. However, there are more radical issues that challenge our assumptions more deeply. This talk will focus on two such changes.

Incidental interaction - The use of physical sensors in the environment (such as lights switched on by ultrasound sensors), means that users do always need to explicitly act in order to have effects on the digital world. We will see how the many of the forms of low attention / low intention interaction envisaged in the ubicomp arena challenge the fundamental assumptions of current interface design and theory.

Deconstructing experience - On the web users can constantly decide whether to continue using one site or service or to choose another. Unless the web service gives an experience that the user is happy with then they will vote with their feet (or at least their mice). More widely user experience has become a buzz-word for the new and more exacting expectations users have of their interfaces. I will talk about ways in which experiences can be transferred between media using the design of virtual Christmas crackers as an example.



Alan Dix 21/10/2003