The UI of Nature: How nature’s hidden language of interfaces will 
impact the future of interact

A session at Interaction14

Thursday 6th February, 2014

11:45am to 11:45am (AMT)

As humans strive to design ever more sophisticated interfaces and 
experiences, it’s clear we need new models –and new languages– to guide the way. Looking across disciplines for inspiration, we find that biological systems have been perfecting interfaces for eons. Where animals and plants are the users, and ecological systems are the screens upon which interactions, relationships and experiences play out, evolution has produced ingenious design solutions to seriously complex UI/UX problems. Over millions of years, the natural selection of interactions has resulted in a wealth of elegant processes (bees pollinating plants, for example) that mold individual behavior for long-term fitness.

All of this leaves us wondering: 

Is there a universal language that nature uses to communicate with itself? The answer appears to be yes, and the language appears to be UI.

So, is there something hidden in nature’s language of interfaces that might reveal a system for designing the next generation of interactions between people and things?

What might studying these ecological interactions, and associated interfaces, teach us about our views on UI/UX? 

What tricks does the natural world employ to signal, filter noise, prevent errors, and make system status visible? 

In constantly evolving ecological systems, how do nature’s interfaces adapt to meet the needs of it’s users?

In nature, relationships are everything. An ecosystem, in fact, is defined by it’s dynamic network of relationships and complex interactions. To succeed, individuals need the system to thrive, just as the system needs individuals to flourish. As a result, individuals, populations and communities –be they ants or orangutans (or humans?)– are constantly in dialogue, 24/7/365, give or take four billion years. Add to the mix that natural systems are constantly evolving, forever adapting to the needs of individuals and communities –as well as perturbations to the system– and you’ve got some rich fodder for design inspiration.

In this provocative talk, we’ll:

1) Draw useful connections between the UI of Nature and the nature 
of UI

2) Highlight some jaw-dropping examples of UI in the natural world

3) Articulate a set of ecologically inspired principles that can be applied to designing leading edge interactions between people and things

4) Present case studies that demonstrate opportunities for next generation Interaction Design

About the speakers

This person is speaking at this event.
Zak Brazen

Creative Director, Brand Builder, Space Maker, Keystone Collaborator, Thought Leader, Innovative Instigator, Pancake Flipper, Marble Collector bio from Twitter

This person is speaking at this event.
Wyatt Starosta

User Experience Research and Design Consultant bio from LinkedIn

Next session in Breakout room A

11:45am The UI of Nature: How nature’s hidden language of interfaces will 
impact the future of interact by Zak Brazen and Wyatt Starosta

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Time 11:45am11:45am AMT

Date Thu 6th February 2014


Breakout room A, Westergasfabriek

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