What is Physical Interaction?

Before I define physical interaction, I want to establish semantic clarity between interactivity and interaction. Interactivity refers to the cyclic process as defined by Chris Crawford. An interaction is a single instance of this process. (The two were used interchangeably once in “The Art of Interactive Design.”)

So the best definition of physical interaction I can give is when input or output is given via the body, whether it’s part of broader interactivity or in using a tool. A good physical interaction is one that has clear cues for how to initiate the interaction and provides physical feedback.

One of my favorite non-interactive digital technologies would be the original iTunes visualizer. It was quite mesmerizing to leave on. Later versions became interactive but still the ‘classic’ version holds a special place in my heart.