BCS is a registered charity: No 292786
Source: MIT Technology Review, 26 May 2009
By Brad Feld
Where all the greatest thinking gets done.
Last week I read an intro O’Reilly book to HCI called Designing Gestural Interfaces: Touchscreens and Interactive Devices. It was ok, but one of the insights - that the public restroom has become a test bed for gestural interface technology - really stuck with me.
I found myself in a restrooms at DIA last night before I got in my car for the hour long drive home. I generally hate public restrooms as my OCD kicks into high gear around everyone’s germs. I no longer think that bad things are going to happen to me if I don’t touch every street sign on a walk, nor do I get stuck in my house in the morning because I have to do everything in multiple of three’s (and - if I blow it, then nines, and, if I blow it then 27’s, ugh - yuck). However, I still dislike the idea of the public restroom. But sometimes you’ve just gotta go.
It was pretty late at night and I found myself in a recently cleaned and completely empty restroom at one end of Level 6 at DIA. I decided to perform an experiment - could I go about my business without touching a single thing other than myself or my clothes. I like to wash my hands before I go to the bathroom (You don’t? Think about it for five seconds. You’ve been shaking hands and touching things all day? C’mon.)
The soap dispenser spit out soap after I put my hands under it. The sink automatically turned on when I put my hands under it (I had to move them around a little.) I walked up to the toilet, did my thing, and walked away to the sound of a toilet flushing. Back to the sink for a redo of the previous drill. I wandered over to the towel dispenser which automatically dispensed some towels when I waved my hands under it.
The only think I had to touch was the door. Even that seems easy to solve - automatic opening and closing doors have been around forever. None of the gestures I did were particular complex and - as I think about it - all were pretty obvious.
Life is a laboratory. Don’t forget to always be exploring and experimenting.