0. Examples of Tangibles

For review Thursday Aug 27 2009, and the following week.

Find two (2) examples of tangible interactions worthy of discussion.  What makes them great  (or not) ?  What makes them examples of tangible interaction?  (or not)?  What are their principal characteristics or features?  Who made them and why?  How do they work?  etc.   Please be prepared to explain and discuss.

Please select “0. Examples of Tangibles” as the category for your posts responding to this.


51 Responses to “0. Examples of Tangibles”

  1. Joey Cordes Says:

    A couple of interactive objects and systems:

    “The BUG”

    A set of technology-infused blocks that allow DIYers and product developers to build gadgets and prototypes quickly using an open-source community.

    “Tangible Flags”

    A University of Maryland project that allows children on field trips to mark points of interest with RFID tags. Other kids that find the flags can use a mobile device to access notes the first child left regarding that spot.

    “Digital Sixth Sense”

    A MIT Media Labs project inspired by “Minority Report” that uses a projector and finger tip sensors to allow a user to manipulate digital space in the physical world.

  2. The first project I found that represents “tangible interaction” is an inflatable interactive dome that can run a variety of applications. With a 3D engine, it can display images on its interior surface. It was developed right here at Carnegie Mellon by the Entertainment Technology Center in the spring of 2004. While some aspects of its interactivity were not entirely up and running (according to the website), it did have one particular “psychedelic” app that allowed users in the dome to control random blobs of color. Control of the interactive elements of the dome was made possible by a variety of input devices (mice, joystick, touchscreen, etc) described in the “Technology” section of the site. I like the idea the ETC was pursuing here. For example, one of its applications was a planetarium – imagine being able to step inside an interactive Google Sky and selectively explore the universe. I think the educational opportunities presented by an interactive dome like this are vast.

    The second example of tangible interaction that I find very interesting is the Microsoft Surface. While working for the Robotics Institute this summer I had the opportunity to use one of these, and they are quite entertaining. Developed by Microsoft for the past several years and finally available for businesses and educational institutions, the Surface is an interactive, touchscreen tabletop computer. It hosts a well-developed suite of games and applications, and custom apps can be written as well. Using information gathered by multiple cameras mounted underneath the glass top, the Surface can calculate the position of an object as it touches the screen, and behaves according to the program’s instructions (many applications written for it have a physics engine, so touching “water” creates a nice ripple effect). The motivation behind this project was to build a highly intuitive and simple platform that could be simultaneously used by a number of users for just about any kind of digital computing. I found the Microsoft Surface to be a very good tool for gameplay and drawing apps, and I think once its price comes down (it’s about $12000 and not available to the general public), its use in restaurants, stores, and maybe even homes (someday…) will increase. It is an interesting step in a new direction of personal computing.

  3. zenofshen Says:

    I/O Brush [ http://web.media.mit.edu/~kimiko/iobrush/ ]

    A project from Ishii’s lab. I/O Brush is a brush-shaped device that samples images using a camera, which are used to create a palette that can be used to draw on a digital canvas. Although not obviously practical, I/O Brush is encourages an interesting interaction of observing and thinking about your surroundings creatively. Although I/O Brush looks like a paintbrush, it uses the paintbrush as a metaphor for its functionality. I/O Brush could have easily looked like a camera surrounded by sensors. However, by doing so, the work brings new interactions to the brush.

    OASIS [ http://everyware.kr/portfolio/contents/09_oasis/ ]

    This is an art project made using Processing and real-time video processing. The installation is a tabletop screen covered with rocks that users can move. Environments of fish form in the gaps that are not covered by rocks. “The Oasis is not a device invented for people to ‘use’. It’s a playful space where people feel nature, find life forms, interact with and create virtual worlds. It elicits peoples’ basic instincts to touch natural materials.”

    Tangible interaction is often practical but is also used for new forms of media art, allowing visitors to interact and affect the exhibit, usually without a keyboard or mouse.

  4. Siftables [http://www.siftables.com]

    This is a project from the MIT Media Lab, and aims to recreate children’s playing blocks, but now new and improved! With tiny LCD screens! Siftables are smart blocks that have a display, and can talk to each other. They also know their orientation relative to each other and the plane of the earth. Rather than sitting at a keyboard and mouse all day and clicking, siftables lets the users use their hands again, hence they are tangible.

    Sound of Touch [http://web.media.mit.edu/~dmerril/soundoftouch.html]

    David Merrill showed a demo of this at CHI 2008. It consists of a wand and a texture pad with different types of textures. The wand allows the user to record sounds, and also modify the sounds by scraping the wand against the various textured surfaces.

  5. Quickies: Sticky notes of 21st Century (Pranav Mistry and Pattie Maes, MIT) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQT5_4aVvHU

    This is a system, mostly transparent to the user, which digitizes sticky notes. RFID tags track where the sticky note is placed, and handwriting recognition tracks what is written on the sticky note. All of this data is then stored digitally, making tracking these notes easy.

    Scratch Input (Chris Harrison and Scott Hudson, CMU) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E8vsQB4pug

    Input technique relying on the sound produced by scratching a large surface such as a wall or a table. A small sound sensor is placed behind the surface, and is able to create an approximation of the gesture being scratched by the user. A cool application of the system is in controlling a stereo system by scratching gestures on the wall.

    Robotic Piano Playback (me, unaffiliated) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bo0eCSkjy-0

    I built a piano playing robot which could listen to a monophonic melody line, and was able to reproduce it on the piano. I think it qualifies as tangible interaction since it relies on tangible input, and produces tangible output.

  6. Wikitude: an “augmented reality” application for Android (Google’s open-source mobile phone OS). Uses the phone’s GPS, compass, and camera to identify buildings and display information:

    From Afrigadget, a fish trap which lures fish with sound and then sends a text message to the fisherman when it makes a catch: http://www.afrigadget.com/2009/07/21/fish-call-the-fisherman/
    To get a better idea of what a fish trap looks like: http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/X2590E/x2590e21a.gif

  7. So there’s a group called Graffiti Research Laboratories (GRL) which sets up electronic graffiti displays in various cities around the world. They started primarily in Europe, but now are in a lot of major cities. They are primarily known for two different types of graffiti:

    LED Throwies: this consists of an LED, a battery, and a small magnet. The battery powers the LED, and then the magnet allows the whole device to be thrown onto metal objects. They make hundreds of these, and then give them out to people, and have them throw them onto various objects around a city. They’ve done bridges, statues, and even a moving subway. It turns the otherwise non-LED covered object into a piece of art.

    Projector Graffiti: GRL sets up a large projector onto the side of a building and connects it to a laptop and a camera running open source image processing software. The camera tracks the motion of a green laser pointer, and projects what you write on the side of a building. They have different effects (paint drip, spray paint, etc) and different tracking methods (developing an eye tracking method). People can write messages that will be broadcast to a large audience.

    They whole idea behind GRL is interactive public art that is temporary but still “graffiti”.

    See them here: http://graffitiresearchlab.com/

    and Here: http://fffff.at/

    The second one is a video of a piano playing robot I created with a team of engineers for a class called Mechatronics. It’s task is to listen to a human play a song on the piano, and then play it back to them. The target speed was 4 notes per second. I submit it as a platform to interact with lots of different things, or as a way to take what is normally a human interaction (hitting keys on a keyboard) and make it automated process.

  8. danrapoport Says:

    Keepon was developed here at NICT in Japan by Hideki Kozima, and made by famous here at CMU:

    When music is fast-paced, Keepon seems happy, and when slow, sad. Thus, the operator can interact with the robot and change its “mood” by altering the type of music played.

    Perhaps a graceful, capable artificial hand is the most interactive technology of all:

    “A few blogs are passing around videos of the Ishikawa Komuro Lab’s high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation. However, the video being passed around is slight on details. Meanwhile, their video presentation at ICRA 2009 (which took place in May in Kobe, Japan) has an informative narration and demonstrates additional capabilities. I have included this video below, which shows the manipulator dribbling a ping-pong ball, spinning a pen, throwing a ball, tying knots, grasping a grain of rice with tweezers, and tossing / re-grasping a cellphone!”

    Komuro’s hand allows literally tangible interaction between robot and human, and brings robotic integration a step further in practicality.

  9. This interactive toy is called Mind Flex; players guide a fan-levitated ball through an obstacle course via brain waves. The player wears a headset with three different brain wave sensors (EEG?) which measure their concentration levels; as they focus the ball levitates through the obstacle course.

    This toy is manufactured by Mattel; I’m not sure if they developed it (probably not).

    While brain waves may not exactly seem tangible, they are an alternative input that users can control (or at least influence). And it’s REALLY COOL!


    The Electric Venus Fly Trap catches insects that flay into the trap, tripping off motion sensors that close the trap. Created by Summit Financial Group, the toy catches the insects live in order to add them to other toys, such as a Bug Habitat.

    The interaction here has more to do with the fly, less the person who set the trap. This has some interesting implications, though…

  10. Body Paint by Mehmet Akten

    ““Body Paint” by Mehmet Akten is an interactive installation and performance allowing users to paint on a virtual canvas with their body, interpreting gestures and dance into evolving compositions.”

    “Body Paint” Installation at “Clicks or Mortar”, March 2009 from Memo Akten on Vimeo.

    I know this technically is not “tangible” interaction but the use of IR cameras and motion recognition software to create colors and fluid patterns based on the users movement is fascinating to me. And I think it shows an interesting use of responsive technology. There is another video, here: http://www.memo.tv/body_paint that shows a dancer in front of the screen, which is an interesting way to use the technology.

    “SixthSense” From the MIT Media Lab

    “SixthSense’ is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.”

    This follows on a similar ilk to body paint in that it offers a fake tangible experience. Body Paint offers fake interaction paint in a manner akin to Jackson Pollock , where SixthSense offers a GUI for the real world.

    To me both of these projects are trying to mimic something tangible and that gives them a level of tangibility. I know that’s a little discontinuous but I think it could begin to make sense when the user experience is examined, and you see how the people are interacting with nothing but the visuals. I think that shows us that visuals can be tangible when used properly.

    Question about the blog: I assume we need to wait for an invite to post, I have a wp account but I guess we have to be invited by the admin?

  11. ATTENTION: reduce the volume of your speakers when viewing this video!

    This interactive wall was developed in University of Madeira by Marco Silva, Catarina Pereira and Maria Freitas. It was built from scratch and it allows multi-touch interaction. The idea for the project was to make people more aware with sustainability issues. It was built using a camera, a projector and IR LEDs across the surface in order to detect where the user touched the screen. The detection was achieved with TBeta and then the visuals were built using Flash.


    This video is about Tangible Holograms. For many years, interacting with holograms has been just a dream. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a holographic projector that displays three-dimensional virtual objects you can feel with your bare hands.

    The system consists of a Holo display (developed by Provision Interactive Technologies), a pair of Wii Remotes that track the position of the users hand in front of the screen, and an Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display unit (shoots focused ultrasonic waves at the hand to create the sensation of pressure on the skin).

    By controlling the movement of these focused ultrasonic waves — which can produce up to 1.6 grams-force of pressure within a 20-millimeter-wide focal point — the projector can recreate virtual objects that seem to have physical mass. In the video above, the projector displays a tangible virtual bouncing ball, raindrops, and a small creature that runs around on the users hand.

    The tangible hologram projector is now on display at SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans.

  12. This is project natal, a whole new evolution in virtual reality games. Designed by Microsoft, this is for the xbox 360 where no controller is needed and you can register your body as the controller and objects like skateboards into the game. There’s video chatting with other users and is the most advanced interaction with gaming I’ve ever seen. Though not exactly physically tangible, it is incredibly responsive using motion capture, facial and voice recognition. The sensors use a infrared projector along with a monochrome CMOS sensor (an active pixel sensor).

    Another thing i found really interesting are Siftables developed by David Merrill of Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT’s Media Lab.


    This technology exemplifies the idea of tangible interaction and is illustrated in these blocks. It is an interactive computer with a screen and wireless radio. They’re are “tools for manipulating digital information.” Several great features of the siftables are is its ability to educate through language, math and logic. The blocks interact with one another solving math problems, or pronouncing words when letters are put together. The purpose of this invention is to establish a stronger connection between technology and the actual way humans interact and think.

  13. zingzhang Says:

    Virtual Piano
    These are a pair of gloves that allow you to tap on any surface to play music. These gloves must record distance, which finger was used and the length of time in between to determine what key is being hit next. If this project is as successful as advertised, it would be a great invention because it’d allow those that do not have the room or money to afford a piano to (learn how to) play them. This same technology can enable users to learn how to play a multitude of instruments besides piano (such as guitar or possibly some woodwinds).

    Voice Controlled Wheelchair
    Exactly what it sounds like. A voice operated wheel chair. It know commands such as “right”, “left”, “forward”, “enough”, etc. This invention is great for people with increased disabilities but there are many potential problems. One thing is that voice-recognition software is still yet to be perfected. Another issue is that this invention would probably not work in areas with a lot of noise – or in the city. The software would also need to be so good that it would differentiate between the owner’s voice and someone else’s.

    Digital Post it Notes (conceptual)
    These post-it notes take the convenience of jotting down notes to another level. The pad itself needs to be wired (or, I suppose in the future, they could be connected wirelessly), then, all notes recorded on the pad, will be processed on your computer – saved, documented and recorded if applicable. For example, if you write down a time and place for a meeting, the post its will then create an event on any calendar application you may be using. If you are writing a message to a friend, it will automatically send a text or email to the person on your post it. This invention would be useful if it is ever perfected. Potential problems include handwriting analysis and clarity of intentions by the user.

  14. Frank Scarola Says:

    A commical and mildy disturbing… child’s toy??? Certainly and interesting take on tangible interaction. Tangible input tangible output.

    Always interesting are new ways if interfacing with computers. This one appears to be a fairly successful “don’t really need to” touch screen using and arduino and sonar. Not as tangible as a toilet that offers a helping hand and a merry tune, but interesting none the less.


  15. Aaron Chenault Says:



    Two competitors compete to become the most relaxed. Electrodes attached to the forehead detect each player’s biological signals, specifically brain activity. As a person relaxes, a ball moves across a table towards the other person. One “wins” brainball by mentally pushing the ball to the opponents side of the table. Brainball also uses the same EEG sensors that aswartz’s “Mind Flex” example uses.

    Panasonic Interactive Touchscreen Table


    This table can sync with your phone, organizing your calendar. It can even control the temperature of your home. One blogger commented that this table makes “performing simple tasks so much more advanced-seeming yet far more difficult than presently.” I agree. It’s not that hard to do the things that this table offers separately.

  16. Alice Chan Grantham Says:

    Feline Fun Park http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7qEATuTfLs
    The modified cat habitat detects cat activity within its proximity and responds by activating motion of toys to encourage interaction with it. This system addresses some key concerns of pet owners about leaving their pet unattended for long periods of time and can be entertaining for both pet and owners. There is a mix of tangible input/output devices at both ends of the system. At the cat center: inputs include motion detection sensors, weight sensor and a sliding mouse sensor; outputs are the movement of the 3 toys: flying mouse, tracing lights, and a door mouse. At the owner end, activity levels can be monitored on any desktop connected to the Internet and the toys controlled manually at the owner’s discretion.

    Facebank http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXoPFxP7dGE
    The tangible interface consists of motion sensor eyes, which activates a chewing mechanism that when done, will burp. What makes them great is that, even before interacting with it, the face elicits feelings of creepiness, or curiosity and usually both; then, it inherently rewards the behavior of saving in an overt display of robotic satisfaction. By using the motion sensors rather than an “on” button, the experience is more playful and less task-like. While “banking” may be the obvious purpose, it’s 30-coin capacity suggests it was more likely designed to be an interactive toy to creep your friends out.

  17. rohitkabra Says:

    “Scratch Input”

    Chris Harrison and Scott Hudson of CMU developed this unique input in 2008. By simply scratching any surface, like a wall or table or pant leg, you can alter some control. Whatever surface you are using must have a sensor connected to it that tracks the sound waves produced by scratching. Say you want to increase the volume on your music, just scratch in a circular motion clockwise to increase volume (like the ipod wheel).

    “The Force Trainer” – EEG Technology

    Some people might argue about the tangibleness of this tangible interaction but I just think its too cool to leave out. This coming October, Toys R Us’ and Walmart’s everywhere will carry a taste of The Empire like never before. Using EEG neurofeedback technology, this toy allows kids and adults alike to use their brains to move a ball up and down (well turn on a fan and turn it off). While EEG tech has been available for years in the medical industry to help track brain movement, The Force Trainer will be the first foray into commercial products. Expect Microsoft Research to put big money in bringing this to the XBOX.

  18. “The Waterboard”

    Who: Designer Mike Burton
    Where: http://www.interactiondesignblog.com/2008/07/interactive-water/

    An interactive whiteboard that allows users to play with the flow of water. Users can manipulate the water’s properties by drawing objects or lines or by impressing your body to change flow. Water also responds to time, so plants could grow or pollution sets in. Water also attracts life forms, as long as there is a continued flow.

    “Magic Spheres Wall Speakers”

    Who: Morteza Faghihi
    Where: http://www.coroflot.com/public/individual_file.asp?portfolio_id=1962313&individual_id=106488

    The speakers are designed to be installed on the wall and to create commensurate light effects with music. These speakers were designed so that they can also be a decorative element on the wall. The visualizations can be changed based on the arrangement of the speakers on the wall..


  19. Matt Zywica Says:

    Living Chair 1 by Ander Huus

    This chair is part of an industrial designer’s experimentation with combining robotics and furniture design. It rotates once within a day’s time, slowly opening as it receives light, and slowly closing as light is taken away. As something approaches the chair, it reacts by stopping its rotation, unfolding, and acknowledging with a wag.

    I think adapting physical and “emotional” qualities of life to furniture is very interesting. It’s even more interesting to consider the developing relationships between a person and their interactions with a chair or composition of space. Ultimately, this chair poses questions as to how furniture should tangibly interact within an environment and throughout its use by people. This chair’s interactive purpose doesn’t appear to balance a shared relationship between the chair’s living personality and an individual who might want to sit. As a chair, it seems to restrict as something that interacts independently from a traditional purpose. Maybe it should only be seen as an object that behaves by reacting to a changing environment. Its meaning may seek to reflect the purpose of a chair, figuratively, as an object within a space that supports, but mostly on an emotional level.

    I could not find a video of this interaction.

    Cornell Robotic Chair by Raffaello D’Andrea


    This chair has the ability to break apart and reconstruct itself in its original form. The seat of the chair becomes the source of information and motor movement, while being able to detect its connective parts to reassemble. While as a tangible interaction the product is more self-absorbed, I can see its interest as a functional sketch to further develop programmed sensitivities that allow a person to share within an interaction. It’s interesting to consider the possibilities of a chair being told to adapt its purpose. By programming a system of configurations according to interactive tasks and shape compositions of manipulative material and modular robotics, there is an opportunity to allow furniture to grow and adapt with an individual and within the meaning of space. This chair takes a very traditional form, as assembled, and literally breaks apart, which is an interesting statement.

  20. “The Wooden Mirror”
    This interactive object is great because it redefines an everyday object being made from something not intuitive to us: a mirror made from wood. A small camera located in the center of the wooden mirror is used to produce black and white frames. The darkness of each pixel is used to determine at what angle each wooden block is rotated to (the “mirror” is made from hundreds of wooden blocks). The key to this project is the spot lights mounted high above the mirror. This steep angle allows for the blocks to dramatically vary in shade, while moving only a small angle. I believe this is considered tangible interaction because the camera takes input from the real world and uses that information to physically manipulate wooden objects. The Wooden Mirror was produced by Daniel Rozin from the Open University.

    “Virtual Waterfall”
    This Waterfall was produced by Frog Design. An image of falling particles is projected upon the screen. The users can place their arms up against the screen and “catch” the falling objects. When the user doesn’t want to hold the objects anymore, they are able to dump the particles back to the bottom of the screen. Not much information was given about this particular project, but I imagine that it uses a large touch sensitive screen to sense where the user’s arms are.

  21. my video didn’t post for the robot piano player, here is a link:


  22. Oh, and here’s one more really good robot one. It’s a box that turns itself off. There is no more goal to the robot than to invert your action. You flip the switch, it switches it back.


  23. 2D is projected into 3D in our mind. And they want a hug…

    A simple curious cube yet numerous interactions it can trigger.

  24. Two pieces of tangible interaction worth discussing.

    “Dance Dance Immolation”

    The first is a video game created by an art collective, Interpretive Arson. The game, “Dance Dance Immolation”, requires users to don a fireproof suit and play a larger-than-live version of Dance Dance Revolution. When a wrong dance step is made by a user, a large flamethrower, shall we say, “puts the heat” on the user to play better.

    I enjoy this example because it lets the user have a tangible experience with a natural element, fire, that in most aspects of their daily life they can only observe from a distance. It creates an artificial environment where the mundane and the extreme are forcefully blended, but somehow the entire game maintains a cohesive spirit due to the genuine amusement/surprise the combined experience provides. One could argue this is just slapping a physical output onto an otherwise entirely digital experience, but I think in this case a nice feedback loop is designed into the system, making it a true tangible computing experience.

    The second example I’ll give is “Whack A Mole.”

    An arcade game, a microcontroller or other small computer causes physical little “moles” to pop out of holes. The user is provided with a physical mallet and urged to hit the moles whenever they appear. I include this example to demonstrate that tangible computing needs to include examples where the computer is “out of the way” – here, one easily forgets while playing that a computer is driving the whole thing (but sure enough, it’s a computer – albeit a single purpose computer.) Here’s a video of a guy who’s way too good at whack-a-mole:

  25. Mark Leung Says:

    Two examples of tangible items
    motion sensing bathroom fixtures
    They’re clever in avoiding physical contact, but can be hard to use if you can’t tell where to stand/place your hand to activate the sensor and cause flushing/tap water. Sometimes there’s a delayed response which makes things even worse: you may have moved your hand past the sensor and then moved it away again, and you can’t tell which motion actually activated the water. Some of the flush sensors are better in that they have a red light indicating whether you’ve activated the sensor, to avoid a delayed response by the plumbing. But without instructions, it’s not intuitive what the light is signalling. Without testing the system, I can’t remember whether the light means it’s getting ready to flush or if you’re triggering the sensor.

    Elevator controls
    In general they’re pretty simple: press the button and you get a response (the light turns on). However, the interaction has two levels. First the button lights up (the direct response), and then the elevator begins moving (an indirect response). You have to have learned over time that pressing a button will eventually lead to you getting to your floor. In older lifts, it’s even less obvious. You press the button, but it doesn’t stay lit up after you press them. Instead the buttons light up as the lift reaches each floor, acting as indirect indicators of where the lift is going, so they’re interacting but not to what you press.

    Both items are pretty standard, so we’re very used to dealing with them, but neither of them is particularly easy to use without common use.

  26. dooflower Says:


    “The Pixel Roller” designed by “rAndom International”

    They transfered the digital information into the analog output in an amazing way. The behavior of the user using painting roller doesn’t change, but the technology makes this action(using painting roller) more creative.

    They added a new value on the traditional roller.

  27. Maria Freitas Says:

    Nokia Morph Concept
    This concept demonstrates some of the possible use of nanotechnology in the development of everyday use devices. Its target user seems to be women, since we never know where is the cellphone in our big bags, with this, it is always in our wrists, and it has the “chameleon feature” that allows combining it with clothes or accessories. It takes the so used cellphone into a step further.

    Tank is a robot receptionist working on Newell-Simon Hall entrance. It is quite social and friendly and can provide you the answer for most of your questions faster than a human receptionist would…

    Simpler, but still very interesting idea. It consists of “an iris diaphragm matrix”, which apertures vary in diameters with light.

  28. dooflower Says:



    “Grass” by “The Barbarian Group”

    The idea is simple, but the result is fabulous.
    They used the camera to capture the real time image and compare it with the frame before to check the movement.

    They not only created a space interacting with people but also the atmosphere of being in the nature.

  29. Amer Obeidah Says:

    I would like first of all to briefly give an idea about my personal understanding of what is Tangible User Interface (TUI). This is important because I have based my choice of the examples below on this understanding.
    Basically, I tend to think of TUI as creating an interface through which users can interact with digital data through a physical environment. In other words, the interaction depends on tangibility and physical interaction that gives computational devices a physical form. [1]


    The creators of the projects below are participants in The Interaction Design Pilot Year Program. This program is a collaborative work between Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) and The Danish Design School (DKDS). [2]

    More information can be found at: http://ciid.dkds.dk/about/

    Based on such understanding I have selected the following two projects:

    Example 1: IntelliTrack by (Erlend Kyte & Tobias Toft)
    IntelliTrack is an interactive lightning system. It is a group of lamps with which users can interact (configuration, positioning) without touching them. However, the physical interaction with the system occurs through infrared sources such as remote controls and/or physical movement of the remote. The way IntelliTrack works is simple. Basically, the lamps have a tracking system, which uses an infrared light camera. The camera looks for specific infrared light source (remote) and keeps following it if detected. Otherwise (light is invisible to the camera) it tracks the remote movement. There are servomotors enabling the lights to move and follow the infrared light source and an “Arduino Mini” that communicates wirelessly with a base station. Moreover, the cameras can also independently communicate with the base station through Bluetooth connection. [3]

    Such system is wonderful because we can have different lightning effects through one system which is a very cool and great thing since you can have relaxing mood, office/work mood, living room mood, etc without having to install different light types for each of them. Additionally, IntelliTrack saves space since you are kind of having “All in One” lightning system and it also saves money because it’s cheaper than the others.
    For a detailed description of the way the system works refer to:

    VIDEO & Pictures:



    [1] Hornecker and Buur -http://www.uselog.com/2008/09/ten-examples-of-daily-tangible.html

    [2] http://ciid.dkds.dk/about/

    [3] http://dkds.ciid.dk/py/tangible-user-interface/projects/intellitrack/

    Example 2: Compound Eye by (Marcin Ignac & Ujjval Pancha)
    Compound Eye is a wonderful thing to have because it allows us to capture the different views of an environment with a single click. This project is composed of Box-Like cameras that can be configured in many different modes (Square, Circle, etc) depending on the parts that the user wants to capture from the environment. People like designers, photographers and experimenters can benefit a lot from such interactive system. The idea of this project is originated from the insects such as bees that have millions of eyes composing what we call a compound eye. Each of the cameras works separately but still in the group framework. All what the user needs to do is to click on one of the cameras that will notify the other cameras. Then all of the cameras will take pictures of the surrounding environment depending on their positioning. Finally, the cameras send the captured images to a computer on which they are processed.[1]

    I think this project can be very interesting because we have all gone through situations where we need to capture different views of the same object where we went through the hassle of rotating the object, move around it, etc.

    VIDEO & Pictures:



    [1] http://dkds.ciid.dk/py/tangible-user-interface/projects/compound-eye/

  30. min chen (ellen) wu Says:

    1. Sound Chaser by Suzuki Yuri, 2008.
    This is a project I saw in ICC (NTT InterCommunication Center, Tokyo) this summer. Traditional LPs were torn down to arc fragments which formed a rail for a specially designed train. As the train runs, the rail will play the music recorded in the LP fragments. “Interactors” can manipulate the rail at will by directly moving the fragments (tangible) to change the music it plays (interaction).


    demo video:

    2. Yoshimoto Cube by Naoki Yoshimoto, 1971.
    This is an object I saw at MoMA Design Store, Tokyo that I couldn’t help buying one. It is a 2×2 Rubik’s Cube with consistent color that might look confusing at first glance. Once have it on hand, the interactor will find the cube moves in a different way (bend) from traditional Rubik’s cubes (spin). Just the way it moves is very interesting to play with, what’s amazing is that the cube actually consists of 2 sheets of unit which individually can form a concave polyhedron, this adds even more possibilities of what the cube can be transformed to. There’s no doubt that it is very tangible, wether or not it’s interactive, might be a judgement call (at least I think it is).


    demo video:

    3. Echochrome by Jun Fujiki, 2008
    This is also a project I saw in ICC. It is actually a game for Sony PSP. The author built a OLE coordinate system referring to famous artist MC Escher’s visual illusion works which is REALLY cool. It is not tangible yet (uses traditional game controller), but i think it has the potential to be made tangible.


    demo video:

  31. Luke Kambic Says:

    The viewer wears VR goggles and physically interacts with a green humanoid robot outfitted with sensors. A digitally rendered humanoid is mapped onto the robot through the goggles. It was developed by Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo around 2007. Freakish and well outside the scope of this class, but interesting for how it attempts to deceive the senses by separating them. This is apparently one of the first systems to allow tangible interaction with a humanoid in a VR environment.

    HeHe Smoking Lamp

    Created by Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen (HeHe) in 2005. It’s a ceiling lamp that glows pink when it detects nicotine smoke. The pink light makes the smoke particles more visible. It’s probably useless for its intended purpose of stale social commentary. If it came in bulb form I’d like to surreptitiously install a bunch of them in a smoker’s house.

  32. 1. String Port


    String Port was premiered at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference this summer at CMU. It is a new piece of hardware (small, the size of a quarter rack unit) that converts guitar, violin, and any stringed instrument’s audio input into usable data via a Polyphonic DIN-13 pickup. This is comparable to “The BUG” in that it isn’t so much a tangible itself, but a facilitator for new kinds of tangible interactions. The big deal here is that the expressiveness of a string far exceeds that of a piano key. You have basically only have two parameters that can be measured with midi keyboard input: velocity (or volume) and duration. With a string, you can bend, slide, play harmonics, mute/hit the string percussively, scratch on it, etc. This has heavily broadened the range of different kinds of musical input that you can send to a computer to then process to trigger whatever kind of output you can imagine. The packaged VST software allows you to assign a different process to each individual string. This allows for more sensitive and responsive interactions with music than we have seen before. Another notable thing is that this is NOT MIDI input. It’s its own thing, which frees it from the MIDI standard, which is better suited to piano for other reasons.


    Bad Breath Detector!

    Input: Breath. Output: Embarrassment.

  33. Showing off the interactive LED coffee tables from EvilMadScientist and BecauseWeCan (with a little help from JellyBean). The table reacts to things around it, using LEDs that light up whenever something gets near the table. It is pretty cool if we can make the reaction pattern more fancy.


    Another tangible interaction I feel interested is a music player incorporated into an ordinary room. The controls that can be found in a normal music player, such as play and next song, are removed and instead the user interacts with the surrounding to influence the player. The user won’t select the music but instead the system will select the music based on the items that the user place on the shelf.

  34. Andrew Ngan Says:

    This is a brief explanation and demonstration on mind-sensor built by Neurosky. The sensor reads and recognizes brainwave patterns of an individual and responds by corresponding actions. This particular video shows how the technology has been tested on video games and varied types of machinery. I personally feel very much interested in seeing how this will turn out in other potential appliances in the future.

    My second example is the tele-kinesthetic Interaction. It reacts to different hand motions by sensing arm muscle movements. Example demonstrates how this was used to control movements of a ball without physically touching it. Air drum demo was an A+.

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