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EX-SITU Research team

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Overall Objectives

Interactive devices are everywhere: we wear them on our wrists and belts; we consult them from purses and pockets; we read them on the sofa and on the metro; we rely on them to control cars and appliances; and soon we will interact with them on living room walls and billboards in the city. Over the past 30 years, we have witnessed tremendous advances in both hardware and networking technology, which have revolutionized all aspects of our lives, not only business and industry, but also health, education and entertainment. Yet the ways in which we interact with these technologies remains mired in the 1980s. The graphical user interface (GUI), revolutionary at the time, has been pushed far past its limits. Originally designed to help secretaries perform administrative tasks in a work setting, the GUI is now applied to every kind of device, for every kind of setting. While this may make sense for novice users, it forces expert users to use frustratingly inefficient and idiosyncratic tools that are neither powerful nor incrementally learnable.

ExSitu explores the limits of interaction — how extreme users interact with technology in extreme situations. Rather than beginning with novice users and adding complexity, we begin with expert users who already face extreme interaction requirements. We are particularly interested in creative professionals, artists and designers who rewrite the rules as they create new works, and scientists who seek to understand complex phenomena through creative exploration of large quantities of data. Studying these advanced users today will not only help us to anticipate the routine tasks of tomorrow, but to advance our understanding of interaction itself. We seek to create effective human-computer partnerships, in which expert users control their interaction with technology. Our goal is to advance our understanding of interaction as a phenomenon, with a corresponding paradigm shift in how we design, implement and use interactive systems. We have already made significant progress through our work on instrumental interaction and co-adaptive systems, and we hope to extend these into a foundation for the design of all interactive technology — to create a physics of interaction.