The Interaction Pyramid
The interaction pyramids qualifies interaction design projects, into four classes, technological, social, critical and pataphysical. The structure of a pyramid means that projects sitting on an higher step will generally have properties from lower steps.
The first step, Technological regards almost all the projects of interaction design, as it is assumed that some technology is present in it. The second step includes social objects, those objects which have the ability to network people. Projects with able to make users reflect on themselves or on a certain process are instead placed on the third step of the pyramid, critical. Finally on the peak of the pyramid are the pataphysical projects, most of them are in the field of speculative design, discipline which tends to bring to an extreme experimentation critical design projects, seeking for problems rather than solving problems.
Here I classified some projects in the Interaction Pyramid.
Starting from the technological step, few days ago I posted about Luna, the smart mattress cover, which improves the quality of sleep, health and comfort. It is a great development in the field, but still it is a mere technological project. In some cases it may be considered also a social object, but still I reckon it would be a bit forced. I would place this object in the first step of the pyramid.
Another project which I would place at this pyramid’s level is iAqua link, a system which allows to control pool, spa, sprinklers, salt chlorinators and much more equipment from your mobile devices. It is just one of many of this kind of technologies which are made exclusively to enhance people’s comfort. Other examples are Sensorflare, Neurio, Insteon and Ezcontrol.
Similar projects are Nest, the smart thermostat which motto is “saving energy is a beautiful thing” and its counterpart Tadoº, the smart cooling system. However, I would define these last ones as borderline as I would place them across the Technological and Social pyramid’s steps. Indeed, they are made to enhance people comfort, but actually their first purpose is energy saving, it is to have a social impact. They don’t create a network of people directly, but they tend to sensitise their users to climate issues and energy savings,
Another project which I couldn’t not mention, since made by some guys from my region (Molise, which is victim of many jokes like “Molise doesn’t exist” as it is a region where effectively nothing happens in good and bad) is Kiunsys, a tool which revolutionise the control and management of urban mobility and allows to share information with other citizens. This project can surely be placed on the second step of the pyramid, among the social objects.
A critical project is instead The Array of Things, like Kiunsys it acts on city scale and it points to improve our life in the cities. It is indeed social as well, but a critical aspect is added. With The Array of Things, the intention is not only to improve a system and revolutionise it, but to bring users to a reflection on their life in the city, providing data which usually are not considered. As Senior Computer Scientist, Charlie Catlett said:
“The thing that’s most exciting to me about the project it is we’re not just deploying our fix set of technology, but we’re deploying a capability. We’re opening this to educators, to public, to companies, to use the data and ultimately we can start to envision applications for sensor that we don’t have yet.”
Another project still acting on city scale, but with completely different purposes is Hello Lamp Post. This experimental platform adds a spark of life to public objects which populates our cities’ streets. It encourages to look at the city from another perspective, uncovering hidden stories, sharing memories and rediscovering systems usually taken for granted. This project, is surely critical, but it actually acts on a pataphysical level, so it might be appropriate to place it on the top step of the interaction pyramid.
Moving from the city landscape and zooming into our houses, we can find some objects which are part of the everyday life as well, but seen in a completely new perspective. The project in question is Addicted products, a fictional service that questions the model of constant ownership and proposes a scenario in which a product can be shared without the active decision of a person, but based on its own needs as a product. Again, as for Hello Lamp Post, these toasters have their own life.
Another engaging project, which I would place at the top of the pyramid is Dico – The typewriter project . Its purpose is to take defunct forms of technology and inject them with ubiquity giving them a new lease of technological life. The typewriter detects a person walking past and then initiates a conversation by connecting to a random stranger somewhere in the world. The communication is not just one-way; your reply into the typewriter is also sent to them, again realtime.
Finally, there is a project which I am not completely sure whether consider as pataphysical or just critical. Voice Booth is an interactive tool that trains users to act in real life, through their voice. It can be examined under the prism of our increasingly digitally enhanced social life, exploring the optimisation of the human as a social species through technology.