Physical and digital interplay: finding the balance…

Session Title

Physical and digital interplay: finding the balance…


John Helmes, Microsoft Research

Session Type: Presentation

We are all quite familiar when it comes to interacting with the more standard computer hardware technologies like screens, phones and keyboards and their digital representations or extensions. But what if we move further away from these technologies and generic concepts and think about the impact of new technologies like multi-touch and surface computers? During this 20 minutes talk several hands-on design projects will be presented in which the creation of specific software lead to the design of an innovative extension into the physical world and vice versa. Amongst other work I’ll be showing how a novel concept for a mouse drove the need for rethinking the cursor, and how a new touch-based application led to an exploration of novel ways of capturing audio and video through hardware objects. I’ll touch on the issues and design implications for each.

How can soft- and hardware design trigger a creative loop in which these two areas keep feeding into each other and making the design process and outcome more of an innovative and coherent fabric? As an interaction designer it’s fun and exciting to play with the creative opportunities within this space, which I would like to express and share throughout this brief presentation.


John Helmes is an interaction designer for the SDS (socio-digital systems) group within Microsoft Research Cambridge, UK. He has a background in Industrial Design as he graduated from Eindhoven, University of Technology in the summer of 2008. Just starting his professional career he is keen on sharing his enthusiasm and design work with the Interaction community.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    You’ve caught a big one here; even reeling in a small piece of it concretely would be a big contribution to the conference. Can your abstract maybe touch more concretely on how software and hardware influence each other in the examples you plan to present? The topic here is an important one, but a very, very large one – and everyone approaches it (and thus will interpret your abstract) differently. That said, I’d be curious to hear your insights on the matter, particularly coming from an Industrial Design background as you have.