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Experience (Re)Design Techniques using Innovative Mobile Assistive Technologies and Creative Context Engineering

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carl smith
7 March 2014

Human computer interaction, interaction design and experience design have not yet digested the new changes brought about by post digital, hybrid techniques and methodologies. Combining current technologies with the practice of ancient pedagogies is beginning to create possibilities that go beyond the 'normal' repertoire of human cognition & ways of experiencing the-world. Context engineering (Smith, 2013) is an experience design practice that attempts to break the perceptual conventions that limit innovation within the social and knowledge construction agendas.

Field Of View (FOV) technologies like the Oculus Rift will not only alter the gaming landscape but will redefine fundamental human experiences in areas like film, education, architecture, and design. The FlyVIZ headset is another FOV technology that augments the sense of sight by giving the user 360-degree vision. The 360 view is compressed to fit into a human's usual 180 degree field of view, it takes fifteen minutes for the brain to adjust to this new way of seeing and ‘accept it as normal’.

The eye now adjusts so readily to the effects of linear perspective that it is considered to be an innate process. The evolution of our perception alongside our architectural understanding is dictated by spatial conventions that have been built into our cultural constructs since the Renaissance. (Panofsky 1924) in his book ‘Perspective as a Symbolic Form’ established a parallel between the history of spatial representation and the evolution of abstract thought.

Vision and optical experts (Radley 2013) note that it is rather curvilinear perspective that has a strong foundation in reality as the human visual field has a natural curvilinear shape. As a result abstract reasoning which is developed through the use of media tools and media content that are constructed using these ‘incorrect’ conventions can now be augmented and re-engineered with other more ‘realistic’ forms of spatial literacy.

Likewise when the digital blends with the physical, in particular in relation to spatial perception, a hybrid reality appears and the wide and varied impact on consciousness now requires investigation. Context engineering is understood as an intermediality practise for exploring perceptual augmentation by giving us control over our senses, allowing us to adjust them in real time. Context engineering works by combining the affordances of analogue and digital technologies in order to provide fundamentally new ways of seeing and knowing.

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