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Natural User Interface in Design

Topic Exploration 5

I thought the term interface always refers to a screen. However, this presentation expanded my mental model about the notion of interface more broadly. If you interact with a device by using gestures or voice, then the device is the interface. In other words, the word interface is not just a screen on a smartphone or machine, but also everything you interact with by using your senses.

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For the activity, students were divided into groups and drew cards for different tasks. The activity was to express the task and have the other students guess the task. “Answering or Receiving A Call” was the task we drew. Eugina was a phone and other people in my group were the answerer or a receiver. They pressed Eugina’s chest as if they were buttons of a telephone and the answerer and the receiver used their hands as the second interface. My group mimicked the interaction with the telephone. I guess the reason why we mimicked a telephone is that the motion is the closest mental image of “answering or receiving a call.” At the beginning of the presentation, the presenters asked the students, “What is natural.” If I had to answer that question, I would say, the meaning of natural is the mental models of our brains. It’s because the sense of natural comes from what we are familiar with. This is why mimicking behaviors gave students a clear clue to guess correctly the task of our group. If the students were from the paleolithic period, then they wouldn’t know the answer.

 

Knowing the different mental models of people is like having a superpower of reading people’s thoughts. This is also an important skill as an interaction designer. The main task of an interaction designer, in my opinion, is visualizing an interaction related to the mental models to drag intended behaviors out of people. To do that, using mental models is the source and knowing what mental models people have are the basic skills. If you keep having one mental model, sometimes, it will work as a bias. The meaning of bias in this context is that you don’t know what you don’t know and having a bias gives you a sense that you know well about something. It will eventually trap you in a narrow view and make you believe what you know is everything in the world. This is when progression pauses. Keep updating what’s new outside and changing old mental models to new ones to help broaden your perspectives. Eventually, it will give you creative solutions for your project.