There has been a long history of less-than-successful kitchen gadgets, from the automatic potato peeler to Internet-enabled refrigerators. Many of these design concepts fail because they either miss the mark or because they assume people will adapt their behaviors to accommodate the concepts, rather than the other way around.
It's challenging enough to design a single effective interface for a product or application. Now, driven by technological advances and rising consumer expectations, a growing number of products can present multiple methods for interaction, at least under certain contexts.
I've heard design described as "art within constraints," and among the most important constraints that designers must be aware of are patents. Patents can not only inform designers of intellectual property that is off limits, but also, what is possible.
Rather than focusing on technology and interface design techniques, this annual interaction design conference was decidedly low-tech, with diverse speakers discussing topics including storytelling, drawing by hand and meaning in the context of design.