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Virtual Affordances: from earth to aether

As the network is unbound from metal wires and begins to diffuse into the air around us, the number of access points expand enormously. This signals the beginning of the end of the KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) interface. These interaction methods owe their existence to the typewriter — they exist because of tradition, not efficacy. The typewriter is not mobile — it lives on a desk. The laptop has introduced an new mobility — but there is an opening for a new device that reveals how truly painful it is to lug a laptop everywhere. The joystick and other game controller devices point the way for the Web. Binding actions to these new devices will need to become part of our coding standards.

The other approach is one taken by Palm and now by Apple: a touch screen that can simulate multiple interfaces. A keyboard and mouse can have true differences in feel and design — but the modes of interaction are well established. A blank touchpad interface that can be visually designed and programmed presents new interaction opportunities for a small form factor device.

Published in innovation interaction design zettel