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  Tangible User Interaction  
    Executive summary  

Interacting with traditional ‘computers’ is predominantly a cognitive activity. This both tend to make computer work inaccessible to motorically disposed people, and it prevents everybody from exploiting the huge perceptual-motoric capability of humans when interacting with ‘computers’.
The goal of this research is to expand the repertoire of tangible interaction principles used for interacting with ’computers’ and dedicated information components.

With ’computers’ changing from desktop PCs to mobile devices and distributed smart products, user interfaces of future industrial products will move beyond display, keyboard and mouse. They will allow users to apply a much broader range of tangible skills and traditions.

Research themes

  • Learning with artefacts:
    Tangible objects allow people to train both cognitive and perceptual-motor skills in synergy. The richness of physical objects invites people to play in a way that goes beyond screen-based elements.
  • Beyond blocks - Physical richness of meaning:
    Physical objects have a sensory richness of meaning that screen-based elements do not. When we see, hear and feel real-world objects we can say something about whether they are old or new, empty or full, frequently or seldom used, important or trivial etc. Current efforts in tangible interaction seldom tap this expressive richness. By making tangible objects more expressive, we could create interfaces that are easier, more beautiful and more fun to use.
  • Emotionally rich interaction:
    Human behaviour is a carrier of emotional information. While affective computing has received much attention, emotion recognition usually focuses on physiological information (blood pressure, heart beat, skin conductivity etc.). Tangible objects, which are designed to invite emotionally rich behaviour, can make inferences about the user’s emotional state from the way he acts.

Partnership activities
The establishment of the new IT Product Development graduate course (IT-Vest, from September 2001 at MCI) is closely linked to this research activity. It has modules on both Tangible Interaction Design and on Expressive Interaction (style and aestetics).
We plan an international summer school on the topic.

The project family Pervasive Computing in Industrial Plants serves as a primary empirical test bed for this research.

This research area is located at the Mads Clausen Institute in Sønderborg:
University of Southern Denmark
Danfoss User Centred Design Group
Delft University of Technology
University of Queensland, Margot Brereton.

Responsible: Tom Djajadiningrat, assoc. professor, interaction designer PhD, SDU
Niels Thede Schmidt-Hansen, industrial designer, Danfoss UCD
Ingrid van Rijn, industrial design engineer, Danfoss UCD


Related projects
Pervasive Computing in Industrial Plants
Area Site
MCI User Centred Design
Area Manager
Jacob Buur

University of Southern Denmark
Mads Clausen Institute
Grundtvigs Allé 150, Blok 2
DK-6400  Sønderborg

Phone: +45 6550 1661
Fax: +45 6550 1660
E-mail: buur@mci.sdu.dk

   CfPC©, updated: 14-nov-05