Tangible User Interface Input: Tools and Techniques

Scott R Klemmer
PhD, 2004
Tangible user interfaces (tuis) augment the physical world by integrating digital information with everyday physical objects. Developing tangible interfaces is problematic because programmers are responsible for acquiring and abstracting physical input. This is difficult, time-consuming, and requires a high level of technical expertise in fields very different from user interface development—especially in the case of computer vision. Consequently, only a small cadre of technology experts can currently build these uis. Based on a literature review and structured interviews with tui researchers, we created Papier-Mâché, a toolkit for building tangible interfaces using computer vision, electronic tags, and barcodes. Papier- Mâché introduces high-level abstractions for working with these input technologies that facilitates technology portability. We evaluated this toolkit through a laboratory study and longitudinal use in course and research projects, finding the input abstractions, technology portability, and monitoring facilities to be highly effective. This dissertation contributes new software tools and interaction techniques for tangible user interface input. It comprises Papier-Mâché, a toolkit for building tangible uis; Books with Voices, a system providing 1 2 barcode-augmented paper transcripts for random access to digital video; and The Designers’ Outpost, a tangible ui for collaborative web site design. Papier-Mâché’s design has been deeply influenced by my experiences building physical interfaces. Web designers use pens, paper, walls, and tables for explaining, developing, and communicating ideas during the early phases of design. These practices inspired The Designers’ Outpost. With Outpost, users collaboratively author web site information architectures on an electronic whiteboard using physical media (Post-it notes and images), structuring and annotating that information with electronic pens. This interaction is enabled by a touch-sensitive electr