MIT News Profile of Hiroshi Ishii

Hiroshi Ishii founded the Tangible Media Group at MIT Media Lab and he and his students have been leaders in research into tactile and gestural interfaces. There's a profile of Ishii and his work in MIT News:

At a time when ever more aspects of our lives are moving toward the
virtual, online world — stores, newspapers, games and even social
interactions — Hiroshi Ishii seems to be swimming against that
current: His aim is to bring the world of computers into more real and
tangible form, seamlessly integrated with our daily lives.

Instead
of just using flat screens, keyboards and mice, he wants people to be
able to interact with their computers and other devices by moving
around and by handling real physical objects. In short, by doing what
comes naturally.

[…]

For Ishii, the underlying concepts that guide all these projects are
more significant than the specific implementations. "For us, the most
important thing is the vision, the philosophy, the principle," Ishii
says. "I've never been driven by science or engineering. I'm driven by
art. Technology gets obsolete in a year, and applications get obsolete
in 10 years. But vision driven by art survives beyond our lifespan."

Part
of that vision is Ishii's sense that aesthetic qualities matter. For
him, it's not just about making something that works; in his careful
attention to materials and design, he makes it clear that he believes
the experience of interacting with devices should be pleasing, not just
functional.

Link: Ishii makes the virtual tangible.

The story also mentions a couple of related companies from Ishii's students: Oblong Industries, which is creating gestural interfaces, and Ambient Devices, which creates, well, ambient devices.

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