The foundation for this thinking goes back to a notion of the ‘social life of things’. If things themselves exist and have a number of trajectories and states then those things also potentially have accessible and useful human touch points in the IoT.
Much of the interactions we humans have become used to are in fact simple touch-points to hidden and complex interactions within dispersed and non-interlinked (at the core) technology systems. This simplification process of creating a directed visual presentation layer enables us to maintain a simplified mental model around our interactions. However in IoT technologies the additional integration of voice, touch and thought require a full understanding of the primary cognitive models for each IoT device and an associated and integrated cognitive model, possible clashes or drop outs and load descriptions (for each constantly changing eco-system) by Thing and Cognitive Group. Only then can an interface be defined.
Above is a visual description of a set of Things available with a person walking through them projecting themselves, a simple human journey. However working in a local model gets the notion of Things and Cognitive Groups across. Each colour group represents a Thing, attempting to get our attention, each Thing does something different, a different set of interactions, activities, behaviours and outcomes. They can talk to each other or ignore each other. The person traversing the real world and IoT landscape walks through several fields of interaction, each time they enter a new field it communicates to them, availability, interaction, messaging (branding, cries for attention, warnings etc.). The first position P1 three touch-points seek engagement, by P2 it’s six touch-points, in P3 five touch-points seeking engagement.
There is no requirement for visual interfaces, in fact audio, smell or touch (vibration or texture) are more likely and in fact desirable to create the ambience for localised interaction and mental association.
Further the current cognitive models associated with the digital existence of tangibles may need to be reconsidered in the context of the IoT as it amalgamates previously separate constructs. It could simply be that the detailed component view we have constructed around daily interactions is no longer valid and we can simplify not only our interactive behaviour but also our descriptors by moving them to high level (directional and instructional avatar) understood constructs rather than the detailed process models we tend to use to live.