Design in 2019 – what will interactive and digital design look like?

As part of our series on design in 2019, Aaron Hinchion, creative director at Kano, looks at what will happen in interactive design over the next 12 months.

Aaron Hinchion, creative director, Kano

What do you think 2019 will hold for interactive design?

Big steps have already been taken towards making more interesting and interactive creative tools accessible to more people. However, it still feels like very few are actually engaging with them. Some of the Google experiments are incredible, but there’s no way I feel I could easily take them and make something new myself.

I think it is safe to say the use of voice will continue to grow in how it is implemented this year. It is intuitive, yet can feel magical the first time it is used. However, voice can also quickly become another way to play music, set a reminder, or ask a joke. Furthermore, it forces us to talk in certain ways, rather than responding or reacting to us.

I would love to see more investigation into unleashing the creative potential of voice, so it could still feel simple, but also be more hackable and open. That way, anyone can grasp the potential of voice and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as customise their experience and make more art with it, for example.

One of my colleagues at Kano recently gave a really exciting talk about magic and technology. With radio, before we literally marked a handful of stations on a device, it was a world where people built their own radios, exploring and sharing what they found. The rules were up for grabs. When it comes to voice, it feels like we’ve already marked the stations. Ideally, we’ll instead expand our thinking to discover its intriguing oddities and channel the creativity within it, from which we can gain the most pleasure. Then, share the tools with a nine-year-old to see what they can do.

What was your favourite interactive design project in 2018 and why?

Courtesy of Igdb

In 2018, I was really focused on what we had been trying to accomplish at Kano. It’s great to have an excuse to look around and see what the design community, and interestingly what people generally, are playing with. The team at Kano shared a bunch of websites, tools, games, portfolios, AI experiments, virtual reality (VR) experiences, and more with each other this past year.

Many new ideas, apps, and tools have been introduced to manage our lives, finances, careers, work-flow, health and mental health. This is exciting, but I find that a lot of these tools, while becoming simpler, have also become homogenised. They’ve lost their own little bit of joy, magic or playfulness. For me, they are starting to blend into one.

If you search, you can find some beautifully designed experiences and experiments, though personally I’ve always been drawn to projects — such as Project Oasis by Harpreet Sareen, a self-sustaining ecosystem and environment contained within a box — that have a bit of whimsy, bringing together the digital and natural worlds.

But the real standout for me was the launch of video game Red Dead Redemption 2, and specifically the drinking scene. Part cut-scene, part interactive movie, it is a masterclass in simple yet engaging storytelling, user interaction, and pure fun. Just when you think the experience is over, it carries on and on again without overstaying its welcome or becoming cheesy.

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