How do you interact with a computer?
Chances are the first thing that comes to your mind is the keyboard and mouse, or a keyboard and laptop trackpad. Those more used to mobile devices might point out the touchscreen. Technically-savvy readers might point out the other sensors and systems that are typically included in today’s computers and mobile devices, like cameras, microphones, or motion detectors. Gamers might hold up the button-filled game gamepad as their interaction method of choice.
But are those the only ways? What other methods of interaction are there? Can we get creative with them?
Those are the kinds of questions I was asked during the Spring 2016 semester, when I signed up for NYU Tandon’s Beyond the Joystick course. Taught by Kaho Abe, it’s a course based around rapid prototyping of alternative computer interfaces, with a focus on interactive creative systems such as games and art exhibitions. It tasked us with creating a new controller, and associated game or application, nearly every single week over the course of the semester.
I’m going to take you on a quick whirlwind tour of a few of the projects I built, going a bit into the motivations behind each, talking a bit about the kind of sensors used, and relating some of the lessons I learned.