The latest 1 Hour Design Challenge: Gestural Interfaces was produced in partnership with Teague. Together, we challenged designers to think off the screen and make interfaces that live in the the objects and geometry of the world around us. In developing meaningful counterpoints to the flatness of all-in-one interfaces, we hoped you would integrate the richness of the physical world with the endless possibilities of digital information, tying together interface, ritual and context.
We juried the competition with Ben Collette, Adam Kumpf and Tad Toulis of Teague, the makers of Radioball, which inspired this month's theme. Incased in a polyhedric sphere, the radio is tuned by rolling it around on a flat surface and turned up or down by giving it a quick spin.
In judging, we were looking for smart, poetic and simple ideas that could naturally be adopted by users—conversation starting points. We naturally banned screen-based interactions to give better odds to groundbreaking gestural interfaces. We also tried to choose products that did not obstruct or eliminate human interactions. Finally, we were looking for fun, convincing ideas that would be pleasurable to use.
Based on the above criteria, we're thrilled to award the first place to LabRats' Hopscotch Unlocking Interface, a door lock disguised as pavement. To unlock your home, you must first jump (or walk) the correct pattern on the path to your door. This was an overall winner for us: it's a fun way to see an everyday task; it brings back memories and, on top of that, can be totally unobtrusive and technically transparent.
Below, a few comments from Teague:
Tad Toulis: "What I loved about this design was it's sheer randomness. I don't think any of us on the Teague side anticipated a solution like this. It's whimsy. It's feasible. Above all it has poetry. Most of all, I can't erase the image of watching someone hop and skip up to their front door. What a great way to start and end the day. It's pure theatre - and definitely challenges existing ways of thinking. I'd love to know what was the line of thought that led to this idea."
Adam Kumpf: "Harkening back to playground days, the Hopscotch system is both playful and purposeful. Albeit out-of-place at first glance, there's just something about dancing your way to the front door; it reminded us of the first days of bluetooth headsets and the bewilderment of seeing otherwise normal people talking with themselves. We'd love to see the winner try this out with their new Arduino board!"
Ben Collette: "This idea is just pure fun. There is definitely an everyday security issue there, but hey, the idea is the most important - it's fun, interactive and innovative thinking. It also brings back memories and it's technically unobtrusive. Loved it."
Click the jump for the 2nd place winner and a handful of notables.
The second place goes to juanem3's Lid Lock, an airplane toilet seat that also controls the door lock. In addition to targeting the well known proble of not having locked the bathroom door, it brought to mind another potential context. Putting back the toilet seat cover has always been a tense subject between couples, a problem in community shared restroom and so on. Introducing a new solution like this could change people's behavior without forcing them think about it abstractly.
Adam: "We were delighted by the cleverness of this idea. Combining a common problem with natural interactions (not to mention some potty humor) served as a great example of how the space of physical gestures could manifest in the real world."
Tad: "This one was a bit of a sleeper. It was so logical - it was easy to blow past it, but it showed up on all our preliminary lists. It solves a legitimate problem in a very natural and understated way. There's something almost 'zen-like' in its fundamental conceit. One challenge: getting folks to close the lid so they can exit the lavatory. But hey - you'd figure it out soon enough, right?"
Ben: "This one was obvious for me. It speaks about everyday life and the little things that technology can help us with, silently. It's definitely a good idea and it doesn't serve as a selfish goal but actually might improve people's vision of a "shared space" and a personal behavior over time with normal toilets. I can see this being adopted pretty much everywhere, even at home."
For honorable mention, we have to give a shout out to the twisting pans heat control by Yhan (top)—a very clever and fun idea. For extending the idea and improving upon it, we also send some props to bennybtl (bottom). Improving on somebody else's ideas can definitely be an essential part of the design process.
On the popular use of booze:
Tad: "Who knew drinking and booze would provide such a mother lode of ideas for gestural interfaces. I guess there's something in drinking and socializing that demands intuitive solutions - now that I think about it, I've been there myself."
On Riegelman's Shower Sleeping Prevention Device:
Ben: "Who's falling asleep in the shower, seriously?? Maybe after spending a night in a bar where the place is equipped with gestural interfaces that deliver your drinks super quick. Then you might fall asleep in the shower the next morning. Then it all makes sense... ;)"
On the recurring sex theme:
Tad: "Manipulation of objects + gestural interactions = sex. Clearly."
On cg's Visual Gesture Library:
Ben: "A gestural interface can definitely be more natural, bringing fun to a boring action, or even be totally more adapted than a classic interface, but I believe that it should not eliminate people's natural need for connection. Eye contact, hand signs, attitude - even smiles are natural gestural interfaces, they even open doors sometimes."
On Tobeanova's Save me Teddy:
Adam Kumpf: "The gestural mapping between hugging a stuffed animal and illuminating a room is delightful and likely to be simple for children to understand. It reminded us of the GloWorm children's toy, but with remote lighting. "
On Fly Hand by camingo:
Adam: "We were intrigued at the idea of bringing the complex RC controller back to something more intuitive and spatial. However, difficulties arise as mappings are created to the various movements of the plane and those shown in the sketch."