Designing for “smack”?
~ 26 May 2006 ~
In early 2005, Apple began shipping PowerBooks and iBooks with Sudden Motion Sensor technology, which “is designed to help prevent disk failures if the computer is dropped or undergoes severe vibration.” Talented hackers wasted little time dreaming up unconventional uses, as reported back in March 2005 by Wired (“Hackers Tilt PowerBook for Tricks”). Yet more than one year later, it doesn’t seem the prolific hacking proved all that fruitful.
This week seems to be a different story. Perhaps I’ve been late to the party in noticing it, but just this week I’ve seen a few interesting motion sensor hacks circling the blogosphere. Gotta run to the bathroom? Feel free to leave your MacBook unattended with iAlertU, which seems to be a hipper version of TheftSensor that adds some flair by mimicking a car alarm. Then there’s SmackBook Pro, granting users the ability to switch virtual desktops by literally “smacking” their MacBook. And not to be missed is MacSaber, breeding a whole new version of the infamous Star Wars Kid.
All this begs the question: Will motion sensor interaction add a new layer to the UI experience? And closer to home, will it evolve to become a part of UI design? Imagine smacking your machine on the right to return to the home page. Maybe the Nintendo Wii is a big leap forward in interaction with digital devices and their interfaces. What would similar thinking do for mobile devices, particularly the mobile web and current UI shortcomings imposed by page clicks, scrolling, and the like? Not unlike Mouse Gestures for Firefox of a couple years back, imagine flicking your phone to the left to go back, flipping it towards you to scroll, and so on.
Who knows. Motion sensor interaction may have little impact on UI design in the end, but it’s certainly fun to speculate nonetheless.
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