The Future is Physical

Session Title

The Future is Physical


Olen Ronning, Artefact

Session Type: Presentation

Technology is rapidly changing the way we interact with our world. It is becoming woven into the products and environments all around us — cars, devices, clothing, accessories — even in the surfaces of homes and public spaces.

In these new spheres of interaction, the GUI-based keyboard and mouse setup is no longer optimal. Objects and environments will need new interaction paradigms driven by new types of input (proximity, multi-touch, gesture, pressure, eye-tracking, orientation, etc.) and output (projection, 3D, directional audio, patterns and texture, etc.). Physical objects will become interactive, and UI interactions will become physical.

For example, in a recent Artefact project titled The Wall, a sensor-laden interactive touch wall allows customers in a snowboard shop to place physical products together against it and interact with related online content and rich media to explore a converged physical and digital shopping experience.

Speaking to Artefact’s experience and collaborations, Olen will present examples of these future interactions as well as opportunities for UX design methods — active research, experiential prototyping and multi-sensory design — to define these experiences.


Olen Ronning, user experience designer at Artefact, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Western Washington University’s Industrial Design program, and was named “Outstanding Graduate” in 2005. He was also awarded a patent for an innovative passenger way-finding experience design aboard the Boeing 787. In 2009, Olen partnered with hardware design firm Carbon to develop and lead an integrated hardware and interaction design program for students at Western Washington University.

Before joining Artefact, Olen was a product designer specializing in user interaction methodologies at Expedia Inc., where he partnered with usability, development, and business teams to design and develop the future experience.


  1. Posted September 22, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Excellent topic. I’d like to see this one accepted.

  2. Amy
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I’m extremely interested in this topic, and this looks like a great presentation.