Haydn Nixon Knock Knock

  • Tauira / Student
    Haydn Nixon
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Luke Feast, Kei Hoshi

A fundamental issue with the application of digital technology into human lives is that its very nature is based on explicit and conceptual information, which becomes pervasive in the human experience and requires a high level of cognition to engage with or interpret. The gap created between digital technology and physical realities is not effectively bridged causing frustration, user error and interactions that lack meaning or value. The issue becomes increasingly impactful as human life becomes more dependent on the use of digital technology and the interfaces of digital technology become more complex and conceptual.

A means of bridging the reality gap created by digital technology is employing tangible embodied representations and controls of digital technology that mediate human understanding of digital information by referencing our innate understanding of the physical world.

“Knock Knock” is a speculative interaction-based design project that explores embodied expressions of identity in communication. The project manifests in a home interface system in the form of a table that allows users to communicate by knocking and sending symbols through synchronised tables. The design leverages our understanding of knocking as an expression of identity and symbols etched in wooden surfaces as a representation of location. Each of these actions is an inherent behavioural tendency unbound to age, culture or background, rather than learnt conceptual operations.
Digital representations of user identity are currently manifested in quantitative objective formats. This is shaped by the interfaces in operation that reduce identity to quantifiable information. Conceptual interfaces are overly specialised, create confusion and lack intuitive operations, resulting in dehumanising and frustrating experiences.

The goal of this project was to utilise alternative means of representing personal identity to interface with digital services. Our projection of identity must become more in line with our personal understanding of self, and the interface more intuitive and respondent.

The interface operates by knocking a pattern on the table’s surface panels, each of which produces a different tone, to indicate the identity of the sender. A specific symbol is then drawn in the groves of the table, which omit light when touched. This represents a location understood by both parties. This information is translated digitally to the intended receivers’ synchronised table. The receiver can conform the invitation by mirroring the knock pattern of the sender. The desired outcome of the interaction is for both parties to coordinate a place to meet up.

The design deviates from data-dependent and conceptual connectivity methods that have become the precedent for digital communication systems. The interface balances the advanced capabilities of digital technology with human-centred understanding and interactions.
Through the application of embodied expressions of identity, we create opportunities for more intuitive means of digital expression and connectivity methods that resonate with our innate behavioural customs around communication.