forms affect motion perception and control. A very
significant perceptual shift can occur with a change in
material and forms—a jerky disjointed motion of a
series of mechanical motors can be embedded in a soft
padded exterior and the perceived quality of motion
can be inversed to a smooth oscillation. Understanding
the material affordances, their interaction with the user
and other objects, environmental light and sound is
crucial in designing kinetic interactions.
Kinetic Memory and Temporality. While computational control allows actuated systems to provide
real-time physical feedback, it also offers the capability
to record, replay, and manipulate kinetic data as if it
were any other kind of computational data. We refer to
such data as kinetic memory, an idea introduced earlier by Topobo [ 11]. The concept of kinetic memory
opens new and unexplored capabilities for KOIs; for
example, objects can fast-forward or slow down
motion sequences, move backward or forward in time;
or the objects can “memorize” their shape history and
share them with other objects.
Repeatability and Exactness. We can easily distinguish artificial motion because of its exact repeatability.
In designing kinetic interactions, repeatable exactness
is the simplest form of control state, and in many
behaviors it is easily identifiable. Introducing a level of
variation in kinetic interfaces or perhaps even “noise”
can add a degree of an organic natural feeling, usually
missing from direct digital actuator control.
Granularity and Emergence. During the period of
1772–1779, Swedish engineer Kristofer Polhem created a series of small wooden objects describing basic
mechanical elements for motion design: a mechanical
alphabet. It consisted of 80 letters each demonstrating
the simple movement that is contained in a machine,
for example, translating rotary movement into reciprocating movement. If this principle of dissecting form
and mechanics into single elements—kinetic
phrases—is combined with contemporary digital control structures, new materials, and actuators, it
becomes possible to imagine a system where a kinetic
behavior could be designed both concretely and formally. This would allow a designer to easily merge
kinetic elements into user interfaces as well as everyday
objects, living and working environments.
Inventing such basic “grains” of motion in kinetic
interactions also brings up the issue of emergence.
Emergence, defined as the process by which a set of
simple rules determine complex pattern formation or
behavior, creates systems that contain elements that are
thoroughly comprehensible to understand individually
(like ants in an ant colony), while it is difficult to
understand the overall behavior of the system functioning with decentralized control. Designing for
emergence, KOIs may create systems that could someday reflect some of the complexity of living organisms.
As we move into the 21st century, it is clear that our
relationship with motion needs to be reconsidered.
The new class of emerging Kinetic Organic Interfaces
is a step toward creating that change. The rapid development of new technologies, such as piezo motors and
plastic actuators polymers, will potentially allow for
creating efficient and inexpensive interfaces that can be
used in applications for communication, information
presentation, style, and decoration, as well as many
others. Developing such applications requires stepping
outside of the boundaries of classic HCI domains and
combining expertise from robotics, haptics, design,
and architecture. The work in Kinetic Organic Interfaces is still in its infancy, and we consider this article
as an invitation for discussion on the future of kinetic
design in user interfaces and as stimulus for further
research in this exciting and emerging area. c
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AMANDA PARKES ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Ph.D. candidate in
the Tangible Media Group at MIT.
IVAN POUPYREV ( email@example.com) is a member of Sony Computer Science Labs, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.
HIROSHI ISHII ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Muriel R. Cooper
Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab,
Cambridge, MA, where he heads the Tangible Media Group and is
co-director of the Things That Think consortium.
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