The (in)Humanity of Gestural Interfaces

Critics argue that online social networks and technology is ruining interpersonal relationships. Supporters praise online social networks for expanding our network beyond those people we can easily keep in touch with. Regardless of the camp you are in, technology and social media has an affect on our humanity.

Now to consider gestural interfaces. In Microsoft’s 2019 vision we see an abundance of touch and gesture driven technology driving everyday life. My question is are we susceptible to the same transition to an emotionless society as a result of gestural interactions?

I am thinking of scenes from Equilibrium and THX1138 where characters so emotionless they don’t feel the world around them – from personal emotions to the tactility of a metal handrail. With the move towards wave-light-switches, touchless payment systems, and the use of touch screens in walls, tables, and clothing, when do we lose the piece of humanity that feels objects. If people are reduced to a series of gestures our lives and actions simply become choreographed dances that would look foolish to say the least to any sentient being that happens to be bored enough to spy on us from another galaxy.

I don’t mean to say we should not move towards an incorporation of gestural interfaces. Just the opposite I think we need to embrace them and explore their opportunity. I caution anyone who believes touchless and gesture-driven lifestyle and would have you ask at what cost to our sense and humans are we sacrificing?

To close, I want to reference the Kleenex aloe commercial that goes “touch touch touch touch touch touch feel” only I couldn’t find a video of it.

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