Luke Tipping writes:
Day one was fantastic. A great start to SXSW. Rather than dashing from talk to talk we decided to do one thing well and get stuck into a workshop. The workshop was titled 'Making More of Ourselves - Sensory and Multimodal UX'. Taken by the brilliant Alastair Somerville from Acuity Design.
It was an activity-based session about challenging our tendancy to default to designing purely visual interfaces. Instead asking us to consider using other senses. Alastair talked about how it’s actually other senses, like touch, smell and hearing that are key to designing the future of multimodal user experiences for wearable technologies.
First up was an exercise in haptics. In our team we were asked to communicate a simple message using only touch. Here’s Will asking Marshall Page (Tech Initiatives Manager at Nike) what time the store closes using only his hands.
Turns out it’s actually really difficult to communicate with touch on the hand because hands are massively overloaded with sensory input. That’s why the US army are in fact designing haptic direction systems that communicate by vibrating on the individuals back.
Next up was an exercise in gesture. Supposedly the next chapter in interface design. See Leap Motion etc. The interesting thing about gesture is that it’s a language not yet developed. So Alastair asked us to explore this by looking at well-known symbols and trying to translate them into body language.
Lastly we did an exercise in sensory augmentation. Alastair talked about how we have nine senses yet current wearables in the market ignore the majority of them:
- Balance and acceleration
- Kinesthetic sense
In the past Alastair worked on using fragrance to help direct the visually impaired. We tried apps like Heare which help the visually impaired to see with sound. Scenti app that wakes you up with the smell of bacon.
So all quite profound really. How else could you communicate with people beyond the visual? What does your brands front door feel like? How might a vibrating basket handle help people find the products they want in your store? How might smell reward your customers for a desired business outcome?