Design's New Hyperinteractive Audience

My family room is a hypermedia circus. At any given time there may be four or five technology-driven acts performing at the same time. The TV, of course, is alive and flipping channel to channel, I believe on its own. My high schooler (doing homework…ha!) is on the couch with her laptop in position, right hand on the keyboard while her left hand flutters over her smarty-pants text phone. And, I should mention her best friend is only two feet away, updating her MyFace SpaceBook Twit Feeds, while they text each other, laugh and video chat with some new emo kid from Texas they met online.

rock bandThen the third ring of the circus walks in, grabs the remote from under his sister's leg and shifts the display into AUX mode for an online Xbox Live Halo session with his team, only to be told by his sis that she and couch friend were watching that. So he plops onto the couch with his Skullcandy earbuds and Nintendo DS to wait out the chatfest rather than shuffing back to his room to crank up Garage Band and finish his latest chart-topper. Perhaps he's hoping for a spontaneous session of Rock Band to break out so he can be the drummer this time, while the girls front the band. It's hard to tell from his locked and loaded gaze into the DS.

kindle And here comes my wife with her Kindle, looking for a landing zone on the couch to be near the family, absorb their love, and shoot a raised eyebrow reaction every so often. And, I must confess, all the while my MacBook and super sweet Astro A40 headset has buckled me into my lounger, ready for a game battle or possibly a Skype call to China.

It's these kind of sessions that confirm to me, we've left passive mode, we're skipping past interactive mode and are now well into hyperinteractive design mode. We've gone exponential and there's no turning back (unless you consider the frailties of power production and delivery).

skullcandyAlthough I've been involved in countless techno-driven design programs at ASTRO—in-home, focus groups, designer lovefests, workshops etc.—where the use of technology is projected into the future, the real-time truth is that the future is now. The Jetsons are building their first house on stilts and design-enabled, hyperactive media is leading the way, hardwiring us differently, by the minute, sending us toward a reality of "if you think it, you can have it." Instant gratification, virtual or real, blurred together, filtered only by the small matter of time and space and sometimes money. What was an idea five minutes ago is on a your screen to play with now, and in your hands tomorrow, and so on and so on. It's not all good and it's not all bad, it just is.

nintendo dsAs a designer of experiences, products, interactions, etc., racing through the technology landscape, I often look for the rest stops in programs to wash my hands and rub my eyes, to think, ponder and project what might come of the programs we're developing, what new wildfire are we sparking and where will they burn. I know as designers we're contributing to the hyper-speed of society and I hope we're also sensitive enough to the human realities that we can pace ourselves and those around us, to lengthen the plot and point our views in the right directions.

One design can create thousands of conversations full of millions of words. And now in our hyper-interactive states, we're having many parallel conversations, creating billions of words, that perhaps no one is listening to, because they may be too busy doing the same.

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Brett Lovelady is the founder and driving force at ASTRO Studios of San Francisco, a company he launched in 1994. Brett created ASTRO to be a pure design culture, where he and his talented crew could blend design skills, innovative technologies and lifestyle influences into high impact, supercharged products and brands.

Within a short time, ASTRO has become an international design powerhouse by designing industry leading products and brands for companies like Nike, Microsoft, HP, Alienware, Herman Miller, Xbox, Virgin and many more. Also, Brett and ASTRO recently spun-off a new company called ASTRO Gaming, providing high performance video gaming equipment for pro gamers.

In the past decade, ASTRO has won numerous design and industry awards, including 2 prestigious BusinessWeek/IDSA Design of the Decade Awards, for both NIKE Triax Sportwatches and Kensington Smartsockets and was featured as one of Fast Company's Fast 50 in 2003. Prior to starting ASTRO, Brett did time as VP of Design at Lunar Design and before that VP of Design at Frog Design on the mean streets of the San Francisco bay area.

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2 Comments

  • Steve Portigal

    "How are things changing?" is a good question to be asking and looking at these behaviors can be a good stimulus. But I encourage people to also ask "How are things staying the same?" and keep in mind fundamentals (i.e., the home as a place for families to be together) that point to constant needs, and opportunities.

    --
    Portigal Consulting - http://www.portigal.com/
    All This ChittahChattah - http://www.portigal.com/blog/

  • I'm the Cold Wiz

    Great view into the life of a modern day family with all the "conveniences" that drive us nuts! Bravo! Keep up the great stuff-----I'm the Cold Wiz