Using science fiction to generate ideas

Clarke’s Third Law
Behold my propane-powered fire magics!
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
— Arthur C. Clarke

The thought

This short post is a note about looking to sci-fi for ideas generation and inspiration. What I mean is putting yourself into ‘interview and design’ mode and watching, reading, listening or gaming.
Look out for goals, interaction technique (touch, gesture, voice, controller etc.), what did the interface look like, what colours were used and what did they signify.

Sci-fi creators generally make interaction with technology a seamless transition from user need to achievement – wouldn’t it be great if all the interfaces we interact with worked in that way :)

Make a note of why something would not work as well, a bit of negative reinforcement doesn’t hurt. Think of the impractical parts – you would need to build amazing shoulder strength if you wanted to spend a couple of hours using the minority report interface.

So, look at film, books, graphic novels and games. Don’t just stick to English material – some of the more interesting ideas are to be found if you are prepared to read a few subtitles (or learn a language for the truly dedicated).

Think about ideas for layouts, look at the physical interactions and the feedback mechanisms that have been invented (haptic, audio).

No particular conclusion…

I’m sure we’ve all had a ‘that’s a good idea’ moment when watching something on TV, but the thought of a few sessions focussing on sci-fi as an ideas generating tool for future interfaces certainly interests me. It also seems that I’m not the only one as I dug around a bit and found some guys doing genuine research into this area.

Does it work… I don’t know, but it anything that get’s ideas flowing seems like a plan to me.
So, take a look and let’s try to get watching blade runner during our working day.

Some links…

IxD Lessons from Sci-Fi
A site with a nice collection of captures from Sci-Fi films
YouTube video including the Iron Man holographic interface