Any Ixder's working on physical products in the group

7 Nov 2005 - 12:18pm
645 reads
Norm Cox (sent ...

I'd like to second the opinions and insights of Lisa B. and Jim Leftwich regarding this discussion on product design. While many folks may think that "interaction design" came about because of the web, in reality the term was coined in the early '80s to convey the emotional and behavioral interplay between the "user" and the control widgets of a physical product. This included screens, knobs and dials, feedback, communication and other forms of "interaction", producing a total product experience.

As Jim stated, one cannot separate the hardware from software when it comes to the product experience. To do so is to risk the product becoming something like Johnny Cash's "Psycho-Billy Cadillac"-- a collection of disparate parts that don't work together as a cohesive, usable design.

I began my design career at Xerox PARC back in the late 70's, before "interaction design" was a discipline. Back then, we (the designers) set out to create "user friendly" computing, through the blended integration of bitmapped screens, keypads, the mouse, and other hardware and software innovations. (The result was the Xeros Star). Since that time, I have worked on hundreds of products that blend hardware and software, and have tried to evangelize the inseparable relationship between the hardware (controls, industrial design, etc) and the software (screen interactions, communication and feedback). I believe this is the challenge for us as interaction designers to educate our clients and employers on the value of design integration to create better user experiences.

Kudos. Let's continue this thread.

Lisa deBettencourt wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> Hi Vishal...
> Yes!!!
> I'd love to be chatting more about physical product design! Many of the
> people on this list are involved in web/software application development and
> so the conversations reflect their interests. I enjoy learning from the
> discussions, but not a great deal is applicable to my work. I've been
> working on products for about 10 years now and it is quite a different
> development process. We don't have the same luxuries of "go live now and
> we'll fix it later". Our designs are rendered in steel, plastics and other
> material, so we have to be sure we get it right the first time.
> ~Lisa
> ---------
> Lisa deBettencourt
> Sr. Interaction Designer
> Bose Corporation
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