I loved looking through this list of different types of physical computing projects. Some were very inspiring (mechanical pixels, fields of grass), and others I’ve seen many many times. what I really like about both the mechanical pixels and fields of grass are the scale and response given to a user. Seeing so many objects working together in harmony is mesmerizing and hypnotic. I think these ideas are great for art pieces or interactive displays, but I think the usefulness degrades when I try to think of “practical” uses (whatever that means).
One trend I’ve been seeing a lot recently is the use of the Kinect in projects. I think its fascinating to use our bodies as a controller and interact with digital objects on a screen (or other objects). There seems to be a market for it as well since there are other competitors making similar products (Asus and Leap Motion are both interesting examples). I don’t think these are the epitome of human/computer interaction, however. I think the problem is in the feedback. I’ve played some games on with the kinect on the xbox. One game, for example, you block dodgeballs with your arms legs and torso. But where’s the feedback? How do I know I blocked one? I don’t feel anything on my arm or leg, or anything anywhere. I think that’s an opportunity for improvement. There should be resistance and feedback built into the system in order to achieve a more life-like feeling.