In 1920 Aleksander Rodchenko, one of the founders of Russian Constructivism movement wrote from Paris to a friend in Moscow: “Our things in our hands must become equals, comrades … not mournful slaves.” Today these words ring as true as ever. With every turn in technology development, new “smart” material or a manufacturing process, a faster microprocessor or a novel sensor, our objects and our environments evolve: they are becoming more responsive, intelligent and adaptive, more colorful and tasteful, they smell and feel better then ever and they “talk” to each other. Things in our hands will never be slaves anymore, but active and sometimes unpredictable companions.
The process of making man-made world alive with technology has been evolutionary and chaotic, nevertheless, certain themes have become apparent, such as intelligent interfaces, ubiquitous computing, virtual reality and many others. The interaction design approach that I have been exploring for over last ten years has been based on inventing and understanding means for sensory-motor manifestation of virtual and physical artifacts in objects and environments infused with digital technology. In this talk I will discuss underlying motivation and formulate basic philosophy behind this design approach. I will then present some of the projects that I have done to address this challenge including investigation of tactile, touch and deformable interfaces, augmented reality, shape changing interfaces, novel touch sensing techniques and others. The presentation will cover both projects conducted while at Sony Corporation as well as recent research efforts at Walt Disney Research.