The 5 Senses in Software

November 22, 2013


Remember when the launch of the iPhone/iPad made interacting with software through touch truly ubiquitous? It was a magical moment for many people. Isn’t it funny how our children expect everything to be a touch screen now? Now we design and develop apps with touch gestures and the ease of tapping in mind. We design around the fact that software is now held by our hands, and how that affects how we tap on the screen. It is so intuitive, and it’s here to stay. So would it be that much of a stretch to assume that eventually software (and hardware) will reach out into the other senses. We already interact with software via touch, sight, and sound. How about taste, and smell? And how about a more tactile touch interaction?

Not everyone believed in the magic of the iPad until they interacted with it — myself included. But once I did, I was immediately comfortable with it. We may not think of taste and smell and associate it with software so readily, but think about the possibilities. I imagine an app where we can taste the foods offered at a restaurant. Taste the drink on offer before making a decision to go there. Take in the ambiance of the restaurant through site, smell, and hearing.

How about truly tactile feedback when interacting with software/hardware. Tricking our brains into thinking we are feeling a certain texture. We could have an app that would let us feel the differences in paint finish, or upholstery.

If software of the future can reach out to the 5 senses, we will have achieved the holodeck. I think it’s only a matter of time. We are already getting closer with devices like the Oculus Rift.

Now I know this is very future stuff. Next level stuff. And a little weird. But hey, the possibilities are endless right?