Reading Tom Igoe's post about the types of projects that resurface each year in physical computing classes, I noticed how some of the trends correlate with the things I've been interested in exploring with my future projects. Part of the challenge that I'm facing is the disconnect between creating experimental interactions and my interest in developing specific solutions to problems or improving the experience of things that already exist.
Overall, I think the exploration of different types of interaction is important. However, I'm not sure that choosing an interaction method first and then trying to figure out what to do with it is the best way to work. I recall seeing a number of projects at the fall & spring shows at ITP that utilized the Microsoft Kinect, but the purpose of using it (versus another input method) wasn't always clear. My overall feeling is that the best interactions don't require substantial explanation to be successful.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm attracted to the shiny of LEDs. When I was first learning how Arduino works I spent a lot of time playing with them. It was fun, but because I did't already have a good reason to make things glow, I was stuck. I felt this feeling related to Tom's point about 'Remote Hugs':
…but I have yet to see one that truly communicates the sense of warmth and well-being that’s hoped for. They’re pleasant, but I haven’t felt hugged yet.
Projects that are incredibly complex, do something the designer thinks is cool or has an emotional significance for the designer don't always translate to a successful experience. The weakness of some types of physical interaction seem to outshine the project for which the are utilized.
The second point that I took note of was about the feeling of doing things that have already been done.
“I don’t want do to that, it’s already done,” stop thinking that way! There’s a lot you can add to these themes through your variation on them.
A project I had/have in mind for the midterm or final came to mind. As I was driving down to New Jersey to pick up some parts I found on craigslist, I had the urge to do some more extensive research about things that might work in the same way. Previously, I had not found anything about similar experiences and the opportunity to do something 'new' was exciting. Naturally, I found an article about a similar system in testing. This was discouraging. The box of crap is sitting in my living room and I'm still undecided if I should move forward.
Part of the first semester journey at ITP is discovering how to apply your passions. I am realizing that it is okay that I want to solve specific problems and improve experiences, using the best physical interaction method I can find.
Perhaps everything is a remix.