Tangibles at Play

Graphic user interfaces separate intangible representations (pixels) and remote controllers (mouse, keyboard). This alternative approach presents tangible user interfaces that tightly couple representations and controls to take advantage of multimodal human senses and skills to manipulate objects.

Enhanced Life
Tangibles at Play integrates art, design, and education to reveal new perspectives on how we use our hands and peripheral senses to understand information. In contrast to the trend of enhancing and optimizing interactions in a virtual world, this project attempts to design our physical world to help people live simpler lives. The approach is a unique blend of human-computer interaction, design, and media arts that strikes a balance among new enabling technologies, aesthetics, and meaning. Participants experience this blend in two projects: Topobo and I/O Brush.

To change the painted bits of graphic user interfaces (GUIs) to tangible bits by exploiting the richness of multimodal human senses and skills developed through our lifetimes of interaction with the physical world.

The core technical innovation is the project's interface design. By designing the physical and digital aspects of an interface so that the user experience is simple and intuitive, we allow people to focus on the data themselves, instead of the interface.

People have developed sophisticated skills for sensing and manipulating our physical environments. However, most of these skills are not employed by traditional GUIs. This project builds on the broader range of human skills, by employing metaphors of our existing relationship with physical objects and environments to seamlessly couple the worlds of bits and atoms.

Angela Chang
Tangible Media Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab
Anjchang (at) media.mit.edu

Amanda Parkes
Tangible Media Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab
amanda (at) media.mit.edu

Jason Alonso
Leo Bonanni
James Gouldstone
Hiroshi Ishii
Vincent LeClerc
Stefan Marti
James Patten
Hayes Raffle
Kimiko Ryokai
Richard Whitney
Oren Zuckerman
Tangible Media Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab

Takuma Hosakawa
NTT Comware Corporation