With the tremendous development of technology, ubiquitous computing is nowadays becoming increasingly incorporated in new products and systems. It provides us better connectivity to the world and the people, allowing us to fetch news and updates from our circle of friends effortlessly.
However, the ubiquity and intelligence of computing have caused issues to humans. Firstly, as major Web applications are screen-based and becoming saturated in our everyday lives, we humans are prone to spend our time interacting with information on the screen. Currently, smart devices are usually intangible information-based, employing texts, graphs, and speech-voices. Although this kind of information is able to convey a rich capacity of information, it either demands a person’s high level of cognition or lacks intuitively perceivable affordances. Consequently, the interaction is often disconnected from the physical world, impoverishing the user experience and thus increasing the risk of user alienation from the physical world.
Secondly, as computing becomes more intelligent, they have evolved the capability of providing information proactively to the user. As different technologies are combating the domination of our attention, we might be overburdened with the proactiveness of such computing. To overcome the mentioned challenges, designers and researchers should explore intuitive and less obtrusive ways of Human-Computer Interaction as the era of ubiquitous computing unfolds.
One of the ways is to leverage human’s inborn capabilities. Over centuries, humans have evolved a heightened ability to sense and manipulate the physical world. Designing interfaces that not only represent computational data but also allow humans to directly manipulate, digital and physical worlds will become seamlessly blended to each other. This would leverage human’s bodily skills and sensing modality in addition to visual and auditory ones, and thus the interaction dynamics will become more variant and sensationally richer. To allow such interactions, the interfaces tend to be actuatable (or programmable), sensational (or sensing-able).
Another way is incorporating peripheral interaction, requiring proactive technologies to stay calm and peripheral in the user’s attention. By enabling non-urgent, non-essential and low-arousal activities to be perceived or to be performed in the periphery of attention, cognitive resources for the user’s everyday activities could be freed. This would require the coupling of human bodily skills and the tangibility of physical objects.