Interaction in Motion

Using a mobile device whilst moving can be tricky

Starting October 2012, I am working on a 3.5 year research project studying ‘interaction in motion’. This project is funded by Leverhulme, under their Early Career Fellowship scheme.

In this project I am creating and studying interfaces designed to be used by people when they are actively mobile. This is in contrast to most current mobile interfaces which are designed to be actively used only by people who are stopped and looking at a screen. Even systems designed for outdoor and transport use typically require the user to stop in order to do any active interaction with the system. In this project I am studying how technology might work if we are moving in an active manner while interacting, for example when running, cycling, swimming, horse riding, motorbiking or otherwise travelling outdoors without stopping.

To study this I’m going to build a bunch of interesting systems to play with, probably primarily focusing on small artistic projects, but I’m also interested in more application focused and stuff too, and am also doing some small focused studies. I’m actively seeking collaborators for this work, if you’re interested in any of this, please drop me an email.

Why study this

Movement activities, as well as getting us from one place to another are also in themselves a valuable element of human experience. As well as primarily functional movement, such as commuting to work, many of us also take part in movement activities such as running, walking, swimming for the activity itself; this can be for many reasons, for the fun of the activity, for the excitement of seeing new places, as a physical challenge, in order to encourage physical and mental health etc. Movement and exercise are fundamentally interesting and valuable activities in their own right.

So, I argue that we should design interfaces for use during movement for two key reasons:

  • The intrinsic value of movement as an activity means that there is an argument for doing anything we can to support people in taking part in movement activities.
  • As I say above (and in slightly more detail) the reality that people do use mobile devices during movement activities means that as interaction designers, we should be designing to support this reality.

Read more about this project.