Emerging Computing Paradigms

by Idris Mootee

Emerging Computing ParadigmsHCI (Human-Computer Interactions) science is fast evolving to deal with emerging computing paradigms. Today it is a little Cognitive Science and AI, a lot of anthropology and Social Psychology.

HCI is a fascinating discipline; the field has its origin in the 80s primarily in computer science and cognitive psychology. Today it exists in a confluence with design as a discipline that owes to traditions including human factors, industrial design, architecture, information design and graphic design. HCI contains a number of semi-distinct fields of research and practices in human-centered informatics. One example is the Sixthsense from the MIT Media Lab. An augmented reality (AR) project, that aims to seamlessly integrate digital information with our everyday physical world. A very cool HCI concept, your hands movements are the interfaces.

HCI is about people, interactions and system interfaces… First, people do what people are good at, such as observation, interpreting, determining what is important, and making the final decisions. There are situations human decisions need to be assisted by data visualizations. Second, computers do what they are good at, which are repetitive tasks and routine. Neither people nor computers are forced to do what the other does better. HCI integrates the two so they can compliment each other to achieve more productivity.

MIT Wearable ComputingThere are a few challenges in applying universal design in the context of HCI in order to provide the formative insight needed to design interactive products that can be experienced by the mass in different contexts. The distinctive characteristics of these products may be identified by briefly considering the changes in the socio-technical paradigm, from the early days of computing to the 21st century human interfaces intended to provide a gateway into the world of distributed information paradigm, the scope and context of use of the computer (hard to define what a computer is these days, or what power is required to achieve the distinction), as it becomes a mediating tool for increasing different types of human (both business and personal) activities.

In another 10 years, mini computing devices will be everywhere as medical and consumer devices reach mass adoption. While HCI is still in its infancy, some HCI practitioners are trying to break away from common conception of an “average” user interacting with a laptop in the office to get work done, and to engage in a conscious effort to develop new understanding, methodologies and tools, in order to understand the following:

  1. How emerging new distributed computational paradigms will create new challenges for HCI designs? How do we research behavior that does not exist today?
  2. How new interaction /interface design can be effectively used to serve an increasing range of system-mediated human activities?
  3. When does interactions / interface design cross the line and becoming service design? Interactive artefacts are now being introduced into service settings in a larger degree.
  4. How new visceral interactions that driven by interactive paradigms rather than user needs emerge, beyond the imagination of the novice users.
  5. What are the emerging threats to privacy that force us to rethink some fundamental concepts in HCI when attackers, ranging from the curious to the highly malicious, might abuse or subvert the system.


Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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