Gestural Interfaces

Gestural interfaces are one of the reasons I initially thought the iPhone and the iPad were so cool, when they first came onto the market.  No more mouse or track pad, just natural and intuitive gestures for getting a device to do what you want.  Of course Apple and now Android will idealize the entire concept of gesture-based computing with commercials demonstrating the ease of navigation to point of being almost “magic.”  In reality, however, actually owning and using a mobile device with a gestural interface, some frustration can occur when it doesn’t always do exactly what you want it to do.  It turns out it’s really not “magic,” however there are still some really cool things about it too.  Norman and Nielsen (2010) suggest that while these devices are “fun to use,” they invariably lack consistency  that could be addressed by developing usability guidelines to help direct the design in such a way as to reach their true potential.  I found the article they wrote to be very useful in understanding the limitations of gestural interfaces, while also embracing what could be.  When I think of the potential of gestural interfaces, I think about a video where a baby interacts first with an iPad and then with a magazine, and how the intuitiveness of interaction with the iPad impresses upon the baby, so that she tries to make the same gestures on a magazine to no avail.  Fascinating!

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