This Week's Challenge: Do the Undo

Mouseless - MIT Media Lab - Pranav Mistry

Click, click, click. Undo, undo, undo.

What’s more habitual for a designer than the impulse to backtrack after realizing, while making layout adjustments at breakneck speed, that they’ve unintentionally made their design ideas worse? If the ability to fix these missteps were to magically vanish from our design programs, then hundreds of thousands of designers worldwide would cry out in anguish.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about such a dystopian future. But with a wide range of new devices at our disposal, knowing how to undo is growing more difficult. On my phone, I have to shake it back and forth—risking dropping it on the ground and shattering the screen. And on even larger touch screens, exactly where does Command-Z exist?

In this challenge, you’ll consider how to solve for this problem. Everywhere.

Within 30 minutes, create a gesture that would tell a selected device in your home to undo its most recent action. How would the device receive your command? What peripherals, if any, would be required to send the command? In your last five minutes, document your gesture idea with a brief video.

Keep in mind that the technology now exists for gestural input to be captured by almost any kind of device. As an example above, I’ve included work by researchers at MIT (led by Pranav Mistry), where he demonstrates “Mouseless,” an experience where people can cup their hands like they’re holding a mouse and control the cursor on screen. Watch how their system works on YouTube.

Want to try your hand at more design challenges like this one? Check out my book Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills, which has just been released from HOW Design Press.

One thought on “This Week's Challenge: Do the Undo

  1. aaron

    Why not a gesture like crumpling a piece of paper?  Four or five finger points on the screen dragged together. Then again the “back” and “forward” buttons in brushes work like a charm, and keep it from looking like you are trying to give your ipad a massage. 

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