Interactive Prototyping with Arduino
Tod Corlett and Mike Leonard | Philadelphia University
Recent developments like the iPhone demonstrate the near-future potential of software interaction with electronic systems. The screen becomes a virtual keyboard, a virtual album shelf, a virtual camera with a virtual shutter noise. However, these software-driven, highly converged, multifunctional systems also offer a sobering challenge for industrial designers. As an object, the iPhone is beautiful, but intentionally featureless. Following an increasingly popular strategy, it and its competitors offer maximum flexibility to software designers by keeping the physical interface as nonspecific—that is, as generic—as possible.
There is little question that intelligent, deeply interactive systems mediated by computer code are here to stay; the question is whether that particular part of the future will involve industrial designers in a meaningful way.
In a short time, designers may actually have to answer the question “Why should this object have physical features?” about the things they’re tasked with designing. They must lead in proposing new meanings and roles for actual physical objects, or they run the risk that their work will be reduced to simple substrates and frames for interaction that happens primarily on a screen.
If they are to retain any relevance working in this context, then, it’s important that industrial design students graduate with the ability to:
• work effectively and creatively with digital interface designers, and
• propose, demonstrate and test compelling new physical interfaces with computer-mediated interaction, rather than just theorizing or simulating them.