Peter Odum

Convergent Experiences, Divergent Devices

Punchcut Convergence is sometimes viewed as the consolidation of multiple technologies towards a singular über-device. I prefer to view convergence as the tendency of technologies, as they grow in complexity and scope, to overlap and consolidate functions. Convergence is a trend wherein devices and functions take on commonly shared traits, but this doesn’t mean that this trend ultimately ends with a single, multi-functional mega-device, no matter how cool and ‘mad scientist’ that might sound. Product mobility, technical innovation, component obsolescence, and proprietary ownership of certain functions are among the many forces that will ensure we continue to interact with ecosystems of related and overlapping devices rather than a single device with every function built in.

But, convergence as a concept illustrates how interaction design for devices is changing. As our devices advance, they are often consolidating functions previously reserved for separate devices. Examples of this can be seen in most modern devices, from mobile phones (which serve as PDAs, calculators, mini-computers, and portable game consoles as well as communication devices) to Media Center PCs (which serve as DVR, stereo music player, and digital picture frame as well as a standard personal computer).

With all this in mind, I’m offering up 7 considerations to use when designing interactions for converged devices.

7 Considerations for Convergence

1 // Our devices are an ecosystem. This ecosystem should function without codependence. That is, devices should interoperate smoothly, but the addition or removal of a device should not disrupt the ecosystem. Adding your n