Organic User Interfaces

For my master thesis i chose the topic of Organic User Interfaces because i was and i still am fascinated with the idea of User Interfaces that somehow show resemblance to live forms or have an attribution what one can call organic. This attribution can be external, internal or both. I did not care about that, what i was looking for is the sense that one can get when interacts with something that is organic. A plant, an animal, paper, fabric, anything. So i sat down to do my research  about what makes something organic and more importantly how can i reproduce that feeling in a UI - no matter if it’s digital or physical.

Obvious answer were the material. Just create something that uses wood, fabric, something that comes from a living entity or even something artificial that reminds you to something that lives. Good examples would have been to use water or plants like the Disney research group did with Botanicus Interactivus or just get a MaKey MaKey and then i would be able to make UI’s even from fruits. But using organic materials will not make a UI organic or at least not in the sense i wanted to create one. For sure the haptic part would feel live but the system itself would not therefore i would only create an organic input device/system. So the question remained: how can i create a UI that feels organic? While the answers seems obvious now, it took me quite some time to figure it out: FEEDBACK.

Interacting with an organic entity will always have a special feedback it does not matter what kind - haptic, auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste). What matters is that there is a feedback. So i decided that i will do just that and build UIs, with physical feedback system that targets just one sense at a time giving specific feedbacks to the users for specific actions.

While i was happy with me results i was still thinking about on-screen interfaces and how this problem could be solved. One answer was to use patterns and textures like wood, fabric, leather etc. to create a “natural” visual look, what would be a ridiculous idea, since seeing organic things will not result in thinking or feeling that a UI is organic.

But motion has a whole different effect. In nature things have the ability of locomotion or motion. Changing their form or location is their core response (feedback if you will) to their environment and it’s changes. Therefor my presumption is that by designing and using the right motion in on-screen UIs one could be able to create a UI that we can call organic.



Can Hackers Be Heroes? | Off Book | PBS

Many people think of hackers as cyber criminals, breaking into computer systems with ill-intent. Though there are plenty of destructive hackers in the world, there have always been people who hack with a different purpose. Some define hacking as “finding creative solutions to technical problems.” To them, hacking means having an exploratory mindset about technology, and a willingness to “get under the hood” to tinker and see what happens. Other groups, like Anonymous, employ more subversive hacking practices to forward social and political causes, embedding a social consciousness into the traditionally murky dark-side of security hacking. Looking beyond the media hype and scare tactics, it is clear that “hacking” is a term whose meaning should be up for debate, and that some hackers could in fact be heroes, and not just villains.

Chris Wiggins, Columbia University
Steven Levy, WIRED
Cole Stryker, Internet Researcher
Evan Korth, NYU