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Challenging Interfaces July 5, 2006

Posted by reto wettach in biofeedback, innovative interfaces, physical interaction design.

During the two teaching projects on alarm clocks, which I taught in Ivrea and Potsdam, we came across various “challenging interfaces”, which would force the user into a state of higher concentration/attention.


Well known is CLOCKY, a robotic alarm clock, which runs away and hides, so that the user is forced out of bed.

During the classes I was teaching, my students also came up with some interesting “challenging interfaces”:


Hayat Benchenaa developed SEFRA, an alarm clock hanging from the ceiling, which is switched off by hitting is. Each time one hits the clock during the snooze function, it would rise toward the ceiling and therefore force you out of the bed.


Blanc-o-matic by Eva Burneleit and Katrin Lütkemöller is a blanket, which would after each time switching off the snooze-function be torn down in the direction of your feets by 20 cm. Works only in winter.


Another commercial product for a “challenging interface” is the “Pattern Clock“, which forces the user to play a round of Simon-Says.

Similar to the samples above is the Dead Man’s Switch, which is used in trains and should guarantee the the operator is not incapacitated (or asleep). There are different levels of complexity for this function, as reacting to beep.

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Another kind of a “challenging interface” is the part in onlineregistration processes, where you need to prove that you are human through recognizing some strange words (images taken from the yahoo mail registration).

Are there more challenging interfaces? And what can we learn from them? And why are we not using physilogical sensors for this task?
To be continued…



1. Futurelab's Blog - July 7, 2006

Blanket Stories

by: Régine Debatty   Each time you switch off the snooze button in the morning, the Blanc-o-matic, by Eva Burneleit and Katrin Lütkemöller, is gradually and irrevocably pulled down in the direction of your feets by 20 cm….

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