Design for focused and peripheral interaction

The course "Design for focused and peripheral interaction" is taught in the MSc Industrial Design program at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Responsible lecturer: Saskia Bakker
Co lecturer: Berry Eggen
Guest lecturers: Karin Niemantsverdriet (TU/e), Dzmitry Aliakseyeu (Philips Research) and Remco Magielse (Philips Lighting)

This course discusses how to design for human-computer interaction to shift between the center and periphery of human attention. Key to this is the concept 'peripheral interaction': interaction with computing technology that takes place in the background or so-called 'periphery' of attention such that it can become a seamless part of people's everyday routines.

Peripheral interaction designs
Students participating in this course are challenged to develop a peripheral interaction design in the form of a tangible demonstrator. In on edition of the course, students developed peripheral interaction design for various application domains, while in another edition students were challenged to explore peripheral interaction design for lighting.

Course description
When interacting with devices such as mobile phones and computers, people are often completely distracted from their other activities. On the contrary, all kinds of everyday things can be done without focused attention. For example, we do not need to look out the window to know what kind of weather it is and we can drink coffee from a cup or tie our shoelaces without actively thinking about it. These activities are performed in the background or 'periphery' of attention. We only focus attention on these activities when they are relevant. Because we can act in the periphery of attention, everyday actions do not overwhelm or overburden us, but instead form a fluent part of our everyday routines.

With technology becoming increasingly present in our everyday lives, it will no longer be possible to focus attention on each device we interact with, more and more interactions will shift to our periphery of attention. In this module we will explore how we can build on the way people effortlessly divide their attention over several everyday activities, when designing interactive products and systems. In other words, we explore how to design for both focused and peripheral interaction: interaction between people and interactive products/systems with and without focused attention.

For further information, please contact Saskia Bakker (s [dot] bakker [at] tue [dot] nl).