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Interaction modalities and the value of taxonomies

I have always been interested in taxonomies. Especially taxonomies that describe instances of designs. Who is not fascinated by a book that contains hundreds of objects (chairs, buildings, devices, etc) and tries to categorize them. Taxonomies serve well as thinking devices. They push our imagination. They expand our notions of what a thing/design can be and look like. Unfortunately, they are not so popular. Probably because it sounds boring. But it is also the case that getting the value out of a taxonomy requires work. A taxonomy does not usually state what is good or bad; it describes a set of possibilities.


Some taxonomies describe a space of possibilities and not individual objects as in the article by Mirjam Augstein and Thomas Neumayr "A Human-Centered Taxonomy of Interaction Modalities and Devices" (in Interacting with Computers, Vol 31 No 1, 2019). The authors do a good job of developing a taxonomy of interaction modalities.


Any interaction /UX designer has to decide what modality to use for a particular design. Of course, sometimes the modalities are decided by others. Every choice of modality leads to interaction qualities that lead to user experiences. We are still in the early days of exploring all possible modalities (as the article clearly shows). The recent additions of touch, gesture, and voice have led to new possible and exciting design spaces. But there is more to explore.



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It is always interesting to search for what is new trends in interaction design/UX. I do this myself now and then, just to see what the people in the field are thinking and, of course, to inform my te