Gabriel Mullarkey DM104 Perspectives in the Digital Age 9 January 2011

Analogue Affordances for Digital Devices Digital media consumption is ubiquitous in modern society. Advances in technology and increased bandwidth in last decade have lead to a plethora of devices for consuming digital media. The success of such devices is due in part to designers and developers addressing the intrinsic difficulties people have with digital technology. The integration of graphic touchsensitive screens has meant that digital devices can transform completely to perform a certain task and to appeal to people's individuality. These facts together with multi-gestural controls heralds a new dawn for human-computer interaction. Integration of analogue features and metaphors into digital devices strengthens the emotional connection between man and technology as well as creating constraints for rich, new interactive experiences. Such design features may be seen as regressive on the whole but they provide a valuable cognitive link to the next stage of human-computer interaction. Apple Computers are a progressive technology company that have benefited from analogue inspiration. In the past decade many of Apple's flagship products bear striking resemblance to Dieter Rams work for Braun in the 1960s through to the 1980s. These include the Apple's Powermac G5's homage to the T1000 World Receiver radio (see fig. 1a) as well as the similarities in form between the T3 Pocket Radio and the Ipod (see fig. 1b). Such obvious design cues suggest a welcome adoption of the modernist design philosophy by modern technology companies but it also suggests how good design can appeal to us on a deeper, emotional level that transcends generational and technological boundaries. Norman describes this phenomenon as 'Visceral Design', one of his three three levels of attraction that shapes our experiences with products (“Emotional Design” 65). Visceral attraction works on a base level and is hard-wired into the human brain as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Norman uses the example of fruit's attractiveness to animals who will disperse the seeds after consuming the fruit or the use striking

com/assets/resources/2008/01/powermac-comp. Fig 1a. to exit any application. 16 Dec. 2010. http://cache. 22 Dec. The appeal of Apple products is not purely visceral as they are sophisticated technological devices however analogue forms and affordances can also transfer to a software platform to great effect. http://perpenduum.jpg) Apple products rely increasingly on interfaces as opposed to physical attributes to engage consumers. The addition of a physical push-button on devices that rely on gestural. The lone push button is generally used as a 'home' button. Braun T3 Pocket Radio and the Apple Ipod (Web. the Iphone and Ipad have only one physical button for interaction with the applications (apart from the 'lock' and 'volume buttons' button located on the side of the units) relying on their large touch sensitive screens for nearly all interaction.gizmodo.jpg) Fig multi-touch interaction demonstrates the .primary colours by bird species to attract mates as visceral design at work in nature (“Emotional Design” 66). In fact their latest products. 2010. The Braun T1000 World Receiver and the Apple Powermac G5 (Web.

com/blogs/arquivos_upload/2008/01/172_721-ramsiphonecalc. A product's limitations are often over looked when that emotional connection is made (Norman. The term skeuomorphs is used to describe such retrospective design features. A non-technological representation can be seen when navigating through the Ibook application. 21 Dec. “Emotional Design” 7). Apple's calculator application for the Iphone is a an early example of such convergence. The limitations of analogue controls are very evident on touch-screen devices however application developers use an array of analogue affordances to ensure their products are more user-friendly. Here the turning of a page is mimicked to great effect by swiping the anywhere touch screen. Here Apple have clearly borrowed from the colour palette. the representation of the basic classic design is attractive on a nostalgic and therefore emotional level. they recreated the 'retro' styling of the ET66 calculator together with the functionality and limitations of such a basic piece of technology. 2010. Even the typeface used on the keys is similar. This is another example of apple's admiration of the modernist designs of Dieter Rams but instead of borrowing physical design Fig 2. Other examples of skeumorphic application designs for touch screen devices include synthesisers with analogue style dials and turn tables complete with representations of rotating vinyl records. button layout and styling used by Braun on their ET66 from 1987 (see fig. Even though the Iphone processor is capable of complex data processing and rich interaction. 2).reassuring nature of physical controls. The Apple Iphone's calculator and the Braun ET66 (Web. http://oglobo. Nevertheless.jpg) . the single usage of such controls is highlighted in stark contrast to the rich interaction through their screens.

com/ipad-covers/ipad-hard-covers/zaggmatereview-and-love-letter) . fluid interaction is achieved. 21 Dec. or some may say revert. This is in spite of the fact that there are intelligent gestural applications that allow for quick and efficient gestural text input for touch screen devices (Sorrel). 2010.The abundance of input devices for the Ipad suggests that there is a long way to go until true. the Ipad into a laptop are among the many products available on the marketplace (see fig. http://www. Cases with built-in keyboards that convert. The Fling is an analogue control stick for the Ipad. Fig 3. It can be deduced that people are prepared to look towards familiar analogue solutions to overcome the ergonomic shortcomings of the touch screen. A laptop-style case for the Ipad (Web. There are even products available that attempt to make the make the touch-screen experience more analogue. Again. It is a transparent plastic device sticks on to the screen and gives a tactile gaming experience (see fig.ipadaccessories. this is an ergonomic solution for people that require analogue inputs they are accustomed to. 4). 3).

http://tenonedesign. They provide us with "a path" instead of "no path" at all. Nicholas Gessler adopts a 'better than nothing' philosophy when analysing skeumorphical solutions: They help us map the new onto an existing cognitive structure. and in so doing. The reliance on analogue metaphors can only realise a fraction of the potential of such devices so utilising the rich interactive possibilities is essential. Like all new media. lack of structure and pre-defined boundaries inhibit cognition. (Glesser) The currant crop of hybrid cars is an example of transitional solutions and how answers to the big questions are not found instantaneously but evolve over Nonetheless.Fig 4. Budiu and Nielsen liken tablet web applications to . give us a starting point from which we may evolve additional alternative solutions. Analogue control stick for the Ipad (Web. The lack of affordances is a big challenge for the new wave of tablet devices. analogue affordances may be an evolutionary stopgap connection to the next plateau of rich interaction. 2010. 21 Dec.php ) Creating applications with analogue affordances on highly sophisticated digital devices would appear to be regressive behaviour by developers. with little prior experience of rich media interaction using gestural finger motions and an unlimited canvas on which controls can be literally painted on to.

The 'image map' utility for the Mosaic browser enabled any part of an image to become an interactive element which resulted in incoherent web designs for a period of time until the familiar web structures as we know them today developed. with some publishers relying on this method as the sole navigational tool. User experience with portable tablet devices at this early stage is hampered by our preexisting affordances. structure and format is sure to develop as the medium matures. depending on the application. But as with the World Wide Web. There are numerous examples of shortcomings where gestures have different functions on different applications. It is clear that developers are finding their feet in terms of how digital media will be consumed by the user akin to the situation encountered with early web design. The tablet platform is an engaging medium for consuming digital media despite the lack of affordances. Budiu and Nielsen describe how touching a picture could give any one of five separate results. The same can be said for the current crop Ipad web applications where very little universal structure is evident. This model is utilised primarily by magazine publishers who have taken advantage of the tablet's form to deliver their content. Budiu and Nielsen found that over reliance on this 'sequential' method of navigation confused users even though it uses analogue affordances (33). ranging from no action at all to the sudden appearance of navigation menus.early web page designs on the Mosaic browser in 1993 (6). 27). The page swiping gesture is heavily used. a particular multi-finger gesture had to be remembered to access the navigation tab on a certain application resulting a situation where users were unable to navigate through the application in controlled tests (Budiu and Nielsen. Furthermore. notably those of conventional web media and traditional print media. Some applications have adopted a 'magazine mental model' (Budiu and Nielsen. Traditional desktop web browsing has the luxury of a cursor that changes depending on the interaction of the element about to be clicked. 79). No such clues can be given for touch screen devices where navigation is solely reliant on finger taps and gestures. . But how do we establish a set of universal rules for such a rich interactive format? Considering these devices rely on touch and hand gestures then it is not unforeseeable analogue metaphors may be utilised more semantically for navigation purposes opposed to skeumorphically to appeal to our emotions.

Application developers can look at the affordances people already have at the application design stage. semantic. In this example no instruction is necessary due the constraints afforded by the plate. These may only be a stepping-stone for a new rich interactive way of consuming digital media or may prove to be an integral part of the future user experience. together with new touch screen specific ones. Four distinct constraints are described by Norman . Real world analogical metaphors offer a wealth of inspiration from emotional cues to navigational guides. the function of a glass door can be clearly illustrated by a simple metal plate fixed onto the side it has to be pushed for it to open (“The Design of Everyday Things” 88). Preconceived constraints. engaging interface. . They guide the development of affordances for objects we use every day.physical. These constraints are the result of a persons own cognitive skills and life experience. For instance. It is clear that mobile tablets applications have a long way to go until the gestural navigation system matures to the point that affordances are transferable from application to application.Norman takes the humble door as a subject rich in preconceived affordances after hundreds of years of existence. cultural and logical (“The Design of Everyday Things” 84). may prove valuable in the creation of a new.

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