Note to Self: Stop Calling Interfaces “Natural”

  • Lone Koefoed Hansen Department of Information Studies and Digital Design, Participatory Information Technology, Aarhus University Helsingforsgade 14, Aarhus N, Denmark
  • Peter Dalsgaard Department of Information Studies and Digital Design, Participatory Information Technology, Aarhus University Helsingforsgade 14, Aarhus N, Denmark
Keywords: Natural user interfaces, criticism, terminology


The term “natural” is employed to describe a wide range of novel interactive products and systems, ranging from ges- ture-based interaction to brain-computer interfaces and in marketing as well as in research. However, this terminology is problematic. It establishes an untenable dichotomy be- tween forms of interaction that are natural and those that are not; it draws upon the positive connotations of the term and conflates the language of research with marketing lingo, often without a clear explanation of why novel interfaces can be considered natural; and it obscures the examination of the details of interaction that ought to be the concern of HCI researchers. We are primarily concerned with identify- ing the problem, but also propose two steps to remedy it: recognising that the terminology we employ in research has consequences, and unfolding and articulating in more detail the qualities of interfaces that we have hitherto labelled “natural”. 


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How to Cite
Hansen, L., & Dalsgaard, P. (2015). Note to Self: Stop Calling Interfaces “Natural”. Aarhus Series on Human Centered Computing, 1(1), 4.
The Alternative Rhetorics of HCI