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Which clippings match 'World Around Us' keyword pg.1 of 1
23 OCTOBER 2014

Describing social and material interactions through formal methods

"To some extent, Formal Methods sit uneasily within interaction design. Human beings are rich, complex, nuanced, engaged in subtle and skilful social and material interactions; reducing this to any sort of formal description seems at best simplistic. And yet that is precisely what we have to do once we create any sort of digital system: whether an iPhone or an elevator, Angry Birds or Facebook, software is embedded in our lives. However much we design devices and products to meet users' needs or enrich their experiences of life, still the software inside is driven by the soulless, precise, and largely deterministic logic of code. If you work with computers, you necessarily work with formalism.

Formal Methods sit in this difficult nexus between logic and life, precision and passion, both highlighting the contradictions inherent in interaction design and offering tools and techniques to help understand and resolve them.

In fact, anyone engaged in interaction design is likely to have used some kind of formal representation, most commonly some sort of arrow and sketch diagram showing screens/pages in an application and the movements between them. While there are many more complex formal notations and methods, these simple networks of screens and links demonstrate the essence of a formal representation. Always, some things are reduced or ignored (the precise contents of screens), whilst others are captured more faithfully (the pattern of links between them). This enables us to focus on certain aspects and understand or analyse those aspects using the representation itself (for example notice that there are some very long interaction paths to quite critical screens)."

(Alan J. Dix, 2013)

Dix, Alan J. (2013): Formal Methods. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human–Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. Available online at https://www.interaction–


abstract system models • Alan Dix • arrow and sketch diagram • context awareness • context-aware interfaces • design methods • design products • deterministic logic • dialogue models • digital devices • digital interactions • digital system • executable models • formal abstraction • formal analysis • formal description • formal design methods • formal methods • formal notation • formal representations • formalised principleshuman-computer interactioninteraction designInteraction Design Foundation • material interactions • notation • physical context • physical interactionphysigrams • product design process • product development methodologyrepresentationrich descriptionsrich user experienceshaping our relationship to the material worldsocial interactionssoftware modellingspace syntax • specification language • state machines • state transition network • structured approach • system behaviour • tangible interfacestechnology affordancesusability testinguser experienceuser-based evaluationworld around us • world representations


Simon Perkins
19 JANUARY 2014

inFORM: prototype for a Dynamic Shape Display

"inFORM is a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table's surface. Remote participants in a video conference can be displayed physically, allowing for a strong sense of presence and the ability to interact physically at a distance."

(Daniel Leithinger, Sean Follmer, Alex Olwal, Akimitsu Hogge, Hiroshi Ishii, 2013)



2013 • Akimitsu Hogge • Alex Olwal • applied research • computationally reconfigurable • computationally transformable • computer-mediated interaction • Daniel Leithinger • digital states • direct interactiondisplay device • dynamic shape display • form and appearancefuture interaction concepts • future materials • Hiroshi Ishii • human-material interaction • inFORM (prototype) • interact with digital information • interactive surfaceinteractive table • Material User Interface (MUI) • materialitiesMIT Media Lab • MIT Media Lab Tangible Media Group • physical and digital interaction • physical form • physical manifestation • radical atoms • reconfigurable material • remote communicationremote partner • Sean Follmer • sense of presence • shapes and formsshapeshiftingshaping our relationship to the material worldtabletoptactile communication • tangible bits • tangible computingtangible interfacestangible visualisationtechnology affordances • transformable material • world around us


Alex Sisan

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