TED Blog | Fellows Friday with James Patten

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James Patten creates physical interfaces for technology — producing rich, captivating experiences for the user.

Your studio explores new ways physical objects relate to digital information. Why is that mission important to you?

The way the human body and human mind are set up, we’re incredibly good at using physical objects and interacting with them. That physical world is so rich, yet it’s often neglected in the traditional ways we interact with computers — such as a keyboard and mouse, or even a touch screen. Whatever you’re doing, it feels the same, whether you’re writing a spreadsheet or a love letter. There’s no extra texture, or smell, or any other sensation, besides the visual element. It would be a shame to just totally ignore those other aspects of the physical world.

That’s why I use new technologies to bring back some of that physicality into the digital world. Sometimes the goal is purely functional, like helping somebody in an office do something faster — the sense of touch gives them this feedback that helps them do things more quickly. Sometimes the outcome is simply to be more fun — a richer experience. I try to integrate ways one can interact with computers that are faster, easier to understand, more social, and more fun. That’s something that’s been pretty difficult to do with computers in the past.

Read the rest of the interview at blog.ted.com

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