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Tangible User Interfaces (TUI’s). What are Tangible User Interfaces?. TUI’s. Physical World. Digital world. GUI vs TUI. (Ishii 2008). Precursors.

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What are tangible user interfaces
What are Tangible User Interfaces?


Physical World

Digital world

Gui vs tui

(Ishii 2008)


  • E.g. Marble answering machine, Durrell Bishop, Royal College of Art, Interaction Design, 1992. http://vimeo.com/19930744

Early work
Early Work

  • Fitzmaurice et al. 1995 – Graspable user interfaces http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-TGEe-Imro

  • Ishii et al. 1997 - Tangible bits

Recent work
Recent work

  • E.g. Lumino, Baudish et al, 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyBbLqViX7g

  • E.g. Portico, Avrahami et al, 2011 http://vimeo.com/29359319

Benefits of tui s ishii 2008
Benefits of TUI’s (Ishii 2008)

  • Double interaction loop - immediate tactile feedback

  • Persistency of tangibles

  • Coupled input/output space

  • Special vs generic purpose

  • Space-multiplexed vs time-multiplexed input

Also fun + engaging!

Can we connect these physical drawing tools to the digital space?

  • Sense position & orientation on touch technology

  • Add intelligent drawing support

  • How can they be best combined with multi-touch surfaces for enjoyable and productive interaction?

Our approach
Our Approach space?

  • Design

    • Tangible hardware

  • Implementation

    • Recognizer

    • Drawing application

  • Usability evaluation

Captui technology capacitive
CapTUI space? Technology – Capacitive

  • Small touch screens e.g. iPad, smart phones etc…

  • Touch detection via electrical pulse from fingers/conductive material

Final design
Final Design space?

Implementation tangible r ecognition
Implementation: Tangible space? Recognition

  • Tangible ID

    • 3 point (min) unique patterns

Valid patterns

Invalid patterns

Implementation tangible recognition
Implementation: Tangible Recognition space?

  • Learning phase

  • Recognition phase

    • Touch point detection

    • Match point distances to saved tangible ID’s

    • No way of knowing which part of the touch point is in contact (+/- error)

Implementation drawing application
Implementation: Drawing Application space?

  • Beautification

    Ink-to-edge snapping Corner snapping

    & Length visualization

Implementation drawing application1
Implementation: Drawing Application space?

  • Visual drawing guides

    Tangible outline Angle visualization

Evaluation space?

  • First iteration: usability

    • Simple drawing tasks

  • Second iteration: comparative study

    • Recognizable vs non recognizable drawing tools on screen

Usability evaluation
Usability Evaluation space?

  • Can users construct simple drawings using the tangibles? Is the system usable?

  • 10 participants

  • 5 simple drawing tasks

Usability evaluation results
Usability Evaluation: Results space?

  • First exploration

    • Technology works

    • Is usable for simple drawings

  • Tangible detection problems

    • Stability

    • Consistent circuit

    • Finger to tangible contact

    • Friction with screen

    • Comfortable drawing

  • Tangible outline helpful – recognition indicator

  • Drawing guides needed

Comparative study
Comparative Study space?

  • Does CapTUI assist users to easily draw precise geometric drawings

  • Recognizable vs non recognizable drawing tools on screen

  • 12 Participants

Comparative study results
Comparative Study: Results space?

  • CapTUI rated significantly higher than Paint overall

  • Visual guides helpful for precise drawing

    • significantly lower average angle error.

  • Participants enjoyed using CapTUI significantly more

  • Participants believed that CapTUI produces significantly more tidy drawings than Paint.

  • Making fine grained movements with the tangibles difficult

  • Tangible design still needs work

    • consistent detection

    • accurate positioning

Tangeo technology infrared
Tangeo space? Technology – Infrared

  • Table tops e.g. Microsoft Surface 2.0

  • PixelSense - Touch detection via infrared reflection for each pixel

  • Image processing on detected pixels

  • Identifies finger/blobs/tags

Final design1
Final Design space?

Implementation tangible recognition1
Implementation: Tangible Recognition space?

  • Learning phase

  • Recognition phase

    • Detection via custom tags

    • Use tag location to get tangible outline

    • Use thresholds for blob sizes

Implementation drawing application3
Implementation: Drawing Application space?

  • Visual Guides

    • Tangible outline

    • Angle visualisation

    • Length visualisation

    • Ink beautification

      • corner snapping

      • ink-to-edge snapping

Usability evaluation1
Usability Evaluation space?

  • Can users construct simple geometric drawings using Tangeo? Is the system usable?

  • 2 phase cycle

  • 8 participants

  • 4 drawing tasks

Usability evaluation results1
Usability Evaluation: Results space?

  • Enjoyable / easy to use the tangibles

  • Good recognition

  • Visual guides helpful and easy to understand

  • Drawing accuracy – less positive perception

  • Add stylus for drawing

References space?

  • Marble answering machine - Crampton Smith, G. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. I.D., May/June 1995, pp. 60-65.

  • Fitzmaurice G. W., H. Ishii, and W. Buxton. 1995. Bricks: laying the foundations for graspable user interfaces. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '95), ACM Press/Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., New York, NY, USA, 442-449. 

  • Ullmer B. and H. Ishii. 1997. The metaDESK: models and prototypes for tangible user interfaces. In Proceedings of the 10th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (UIST '97). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 223-232.

  • Ishii H., B. Ullmer, Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms, Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, p.234-241, March 22-27, 1997, Atlanta, Georgia, United States

  • Ishii H., 2008. Tangible bits: beyond pixels. In Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Tangible and embedded interaction (TEI '08). ACM, New York, NY, USA, xv-xxv. 

  • Baudisch P., T. Becker, and F. Rudeck. 2010. Lumino: tangible building blocks based on glass fiber bundles. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2010 Emerging Technologies (SIGGRAPH '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 16 , 1 pages.

  • Avrahami D., J. Wobbrock, and S. Izadi. 2011. Portico: tangible interaction on and around a tablet. In Proceedings of the 24th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (UIST '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 347-356. 

  • Blagojevic R., X. Chen, R. Tan, R. Sheehan, and B. Plimmer. 2012. Using tangible drawing tools on a capacitive multi-touch display. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference on People and Computers (BCS-HCI '12). British Computer Society, Swinton, UK, UK, 315-320.

  • Zhen, J. S., R. Blagojevic and B. Plimmer (2013). Tangeo: Geometric Drawing with Tangibles on an Interactive Table-Top. CHI 2013. Paris France, ACM. WIP: in press.

  • Shaer O. and E. Hornecker(2010) "Tangible User Interfaces: Past, Present and Future Directions", Foundations and Trends® in Human-Computer Interaction: Vol. 3: No 1-2, pp 1-137.