Design in 2022 – what will interactive design look like?

As part of our series of design in 2022, Tommy Taylor, Alphabetical creative partner, offers his view on what might happen in interactive design over the next year.

What do you think 2022 will hold for interactive design?

Generative AI: I’m excited to see how AI generative design might progress interactive experiences in the near future. Interactive design experiences are traditionally determined by designers – but what if we set AI generative design to create interaction experience for us in the near future?

I would like to see how interactive experiences can build a more sustained sense of surprise, to keep the mind guessing. Great interactivity excites from its very initial engagement. But the supreme capability of our human instincts means that we’re often able to get in front of an interactive experience, so that after a few moments we can almost predict what might happen next, before it actually happens.

Connecting the senses: I’d like to see interactive design become even more emotive in 2022 – engagingly beyond the five key senses. For me the greater the sensorial spectrum of interactivity, the deeper the emotional response will be. Linking together sound, sight, taste, scent and touch but also going beyond those to reach our heat, hunger, thirst, balance, space, movement, action and location receptors.

I’m excited to see how the near future might more fully realise the benefits interactive design can bring to our wellbeing by responding to our tension, pressure and pain senses, for example.

More from the metaverse: As coronavirus restrictions continue to limit interactions in real life, our windows are already open for online environments to continue to step up and fulfil the personal, social and cultural interactions we all crave.

What was your favourite interactive design project from 2021?

The mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope. Courtesy of NASA

At 12:20 on 25 December, like many people around the world, I was gripped by the live stream coverage of the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and perhaps the greatest interactive endeavour of the 21st century.

On a mission back to the start of time the JWST will present us with images from the very beginning of the universe and the moments that followed the big bang. Taking 30 years and costing £7.5bn to develop the telescope is a triumph of interactive innovation between international space agencies.

Its launch represents an amazing leap for interactivity which sees operatives in continuous control of the telescope despite it travelling over 1 million miles away from earth. About 100 times more powerful than Hubble, the key objective for operatives is to focus the telescope on light coming from the very first stars to shine in the universe. If all goes well, we’ll start seeing its images from as early as the summer 2022.

I’m fascinated by Webb’s ability to help us interact with our past, present and future. Light from a distant star can take years to reach us from across the expanse of space. Light from the first stars began its journey 13.5 billion years ago so Webb enables us to see those stars exactly as they were shorty after the Big Bang. By probing the dark matter and movement of distant galaxies, Webb could also help us understand how fast the universe is expanding and what its ultimate fate may be.

Its delayed launch date was 25 December, a day traditionally meant for celebrating festive birth and beginnings. How fitting that on this day we’re also witnessing an expedition to celebrate the birth of the cosmos too. A mission to find questions we haven’t thought to even ask yet.

Banner image courtesy of NASA

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  • Carl St. James January 11, 2022 at 9:56 am

    I would like to see Apple and Google taking a lead in interaction design this year.

    I may be the only designer that sees this but the current generation of smartphone OSes are not fit for purpose and have many interactions and holdouts from the days of smaller phones that still exist on bigger ones.

    A phone OS should be entirely useable with one hand and so it really is bad design to have crucial elements of the OS outside of the bottom 40% of screen and yet this is where Apple sticks notifications, control centre, the ‘back’ link and on the homescreen icons *still* float to the top of unused space.

    There have been small advances in this space; Google put the search bar at the bottom of the homescreen, Apple moved the Safari address bar and Samsung redesigned their Android ‘skin’ to push many interactions to the bottom.

    In 2022 I would like to see a redesign of iOS and Android interactions so that the forthcoming iOS16 doesn’t just feel like iOS7 (the one built for the 3.5″ iPhone 4) stretched over a larger screen.

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