Building Novel Interfaces

Sidney Fels, University of British Columbia

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University December 8, 2000

For an interface to be successful it should address the physical, emotional and cognitive aspects of the user. In effect, the interface should feel "good" to use. People and objects form relationships based upon the interface available. There are four types of relationships which can form between people and objects. The relationships that form depend upon whether a person embodies an object, i.e., feels the object is an extension of himself or whether the object embodies the person, i.e., the person submits to the manipulations of the object. In the former situation, the process of embodiment can be seen as the formation of intimacy between a person and the device. In the latter case, the process of embodiment often has to do with the desire for belonging or the dissociation of oneself from an object that you are controlling. Each of these relationships have their own aesthetic appeal.

In this talk, I will introduce some of the work I have been doing with building novel human-machine interfaces that explore some of the issues of intimacy and embodiment of the interface. Some of the projects I plan to discuss are: Glove-TalkII, the Iamascope, Video Cubism, Sound Sculpting, and the Forklift Ballet. If we have time, I'll show video of some other interesting interfaces. Glove-TalkII is an adaptive gesture-to-speech device which works like a musical instrument for speech. The Iamascope is an interactive artwork that places the participant into a large video-based, musical kaleidoscope. Video cubism is an interactive volumetric visualisation of video data. Sound sculpting is a sound design interface that uses virtual physical objects to manipulate the quality of sound. The Forklift Ballet is a dance piece using forklifts to demonstrate the relationship between skill, aesthetics and expression. Each of these projects has implications for developing a theory on human-machine interaction.

Sidney Fels received his Ph. D. and M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Toronto in 1994 and 1990 respectively. He received his B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1988. He was a visiting researcher at ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan from 1996 to 1997. He also worked at Virtual Technologies Inc. in Palo Alto, CA developing the GesturePlus™ system and the CyberServer™ in 1995. His research interests are in human-computer interaction, neural networks, intelligent agents and interactive arts. Some of his research projects include Glove-TalkII, Glove-Talk, Iamascope, InvenTcl, Sound Sculpting and the context-aware mobile assistant project (CMAP).

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