Beyond Topplr: Characteristics of Seamless Interfaces

The Interaction-Attention Continuum emphasizes the characteristics of different interactions on the spectrum, while less stressing on the characteristics of the interfaces where seamless interactions take place. By giving a clear classification of these interfaces by the mental effort they require to give the input and the attentional type they demand to receive the output, it is expected to help future designers to determine how much information users can input, how information should be presented, and in what way the information should be transferred.

Focused Interaface

A focused interface is where users perform interactions in their center of attention. It is the most commonly applied in screen-based or voice-controlled devices, such as desktops and virtual assistants. On one hand, it allows users to have precise control of the system (multi-level control); on the other hand, it can also present detailed information in forms of text, audio, and graphics. Meanwhile, the perception and interpretation of such information are always cognitive activities which demand intellectual attention. Thus, the mental effort required on focused interfaces is relatively higher than their counterparts.


Peripheral Interface

A peripheral interface is where users execute certain actions in their periphery of attention, so-called peripheral interactions. Most devices in our everyday activities either demand full attention or completely no attention. There is a call for interaction designs that only require low mental effort. Thus, from where to perform such interactions, users can only have imprecise control or in other words, “binary” control. This also results in restricted outputs which could be haptic feedback or ambient displays. Thus, the perception of such outputs only demands sensorial attention. Also, since One of the considerations of achieving the Interaction-Attention Continuum is to support tangible gesture interactions. This implies that tangible interfaces might be better in allowing attention shifts among the interfaces.


Implicit Interface

An implicit interface is where interactions take place outside of the user’s attentional field. Such interfaces could be universally found in Ubiquitous Computing, which involves automatic systems. As implicit interactions usually elude user’s attention and not initiated by the user, such type of interfaces does not come with a visible or tangible interface. Therefore, users cannot directly control or interfere with the system processes. However, since little human interference involves in the interaction but computing instead, the media are usually rich computational data.