Having read an article on how to increase one's productivity it got me thinking whether there is something missing from our design strategies. We want users to achieve their mental peak when using an application but what are we doing to encourage this? Where is the Mental Strategy? Research shows that mental performance is improved by standing, walking and even simply gesturing yet the average office set up supports this trend of sedentary experiences, based more on comfort than optimising a user’s thinking ability.
My point is that devices and applications in a business context should be conducive to optimizing our performance. Unfortunately given half a chance many workers would relish a zero-gravity reclined-seating workstation. In an inactive society where a device which contributes towards our obese nation such as the remote control is celebrated for helping satisfy our sedentary desires, would a device that bucks this sedentary trend and shifts away from the desk-and-chair paradigm be well received?
If research shows that physical activity can rejuvenate a flagging brain, provide mental stimulation and help us think then why is it not factored in to the design?
I have been heartened by the Wii (and not forgetting Sony’s EyeToy) which has been instrumental in getting many couch addicts up off their backsides. The Wii is a games console designed to create a fun and immersive gaming experience and not to boost brain power but there is much we can learn from the Wii.
It’s more as a by-product of the physical form and the natural user interface that the latest multi-touch table devices encourage physical activity. Whilst there is nothing to stop you pulling up your favourite armchair alongside these interactive tables, this interaction paradigm encourages users to stand, walk and gesture. If the research is accurate then these devices should improve our thinking power.
So along with the entertainment, interactive and social plaudits heaped on these devices we can now add brain boosting. Employees who remain deskbound all the time have their productivity stifled so will this be the start of a new generation of active and productive office computer users?