Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Glass Wall

I am currently in the process of defining my senior project for my last semester in school. There are so many things that interest me, yet there is one area of life which continues to worry me more and more. Life is becoming digitized, there is so little time spent away from the internet. The internet is meant to be our tool, yet for many it has become the prison which keeps their mind away from novel thought. This is a habit which must be broken if we are to keep human ingenuity and problem solving alive.
One of the reasons that the overuse of mobile devices bothers me is that I can see the reliance on constant entertainment. Mobile devices are used most for entertainment and games, this means that instead of personal thought and reflection, most people turn to their hand held device of choice to fill empty brain time. It can be argued that this used to be the role of television, but television was never so portable and widely available. It is important to keep a certain amount of thinking time away from technology in order to process the incessant stream of data which is entering our mind.
And that is the problem, an overabundance of data which we do not take the proper time to analyze and digest. Sure, many people do use this information learned to create amazing new things, but the average internet user is substituting a slice of their reality for a digital world. This is where the glass wall comes in. The glass wall is my term for the physical feeling of the touch screen and the division between the real and the virtual. Behind the wall there is another world filled with the ideas of many, yet it is also the place where people can only get lost in the thoughts of others. They get lost in research or games.
If at this point you are reading this and you cannot think of an experience with a glass wall, think about every time you use an interface which is designed to look three dimensional or textured. It is only there for visual interest. You cannot feel the dimensionality of your GUI when you use it. Even more bothersome is when the interface emphasizes its artificiality. When you read a book on your iPad, the pages turn as if it is a physical object. This is just incredibly stupid interface design, I don't know if there is any other way to say it. This animation is supposed to make you feel as if you are interacting with a real book, as long as you usually read books from the other side of a glass wall.
Humans are evolved to have a sense of touch, and we like to use it. This is one of the reasons that the touch screen has caught on so well. But it isn't called a feel screen, there is really nothing about it that you feel besides sometimes a small amount of haptic feedback. And now I can finally make the connection between my project and the glass wall. I would like to make something that satisfies the sense of touch. These objects will probably be textures which I will use for the cases of mobile devices among other things.

That is all.

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