March 15, 2005

Tangible Computing

Writing about web page

Mat Jones / Chris Heathcote – nokia

  • Ubiquitous computing is here
  • But the interfaces can't support the interactions we need to have with our computing devices
  • WIMP affordances aren't good enough

We need to play to our strengths: what have we got?

  • we are situated
  • we are embodied
  • we have opposable thumbs
  • we can touch

  • Interfaces should have a real effect; real is tangible
  • Dance Dance revolution is the cutting edge of tangible computing
  • Principles: Cognitive economy (don't allow people to do the wrong thing); social legibility (If I see you do it, I can copy you) – extelligence (c.f. the design of everyday thing)
  • Use attention wisely – glanceability: important information isn't in a window, it bubbles up. Direct combination – choose the objects and let the system infer the appropriate actions
  • Tangible tiredness – tangible computing is more physical.
  • what's out there now? Tablet computers, musical instruments like audiopad and jazz mutant; smart furnitured – drift table, sensitive objects (microphones on a flat surface can 'know' where you tap; cameras – digital pens, eyetoy, augmented reality; passive information display – make information more available; smart objects – barcodes / ids everywhere, haptics / force feedback everywhere.

Ambient devices - pre-attention cognition - process information without having to think about it

  • NFC - Near Field Communications – touch technology
  • Touch phone to computer – phone knows to sync itself
  • NFC reader/writer hardware – tags – have small amounts of info in them


Touched a phone to a tag (on an ID badge), it flashed & read the info of the tag. Tag is about the size of a 50p piece. But this is nothing new – just like the card readers on our doors. Once the phone has picked the tag data up though it could transfer it to another phone just by touching it. Tags can be written to as well as read from.

  • cool new output devices – dotdotdot for phone displays, palmorb, airport express
  • need programmability – more apis, more I/O

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