mas834: tangible interfaces
fall 2001
professor hiroshi ishii
tas angela chang
official course webpage
personal course webpage
course description
the tangible user interface (TUI) is an attempt to give physical form to digital information, making bits directly manipulable and perceptible by people. the goal of TUI research and design is to build the next generation of interfaces that go beyond the current and dominant GUI paradigm. this course explored the design space of TUIs, a new form of HCI which focuses on the physical embodiment of computational media.

tangible interfaces were designed to make bits accessible through augmented physical surfaces (e.g. walls, desktops, ceilings, windows), graspable objects (e.g. building blocks, models, instruments) and ambient media (e.g. light, sound, airflow, water-flow, kinetic sculpture) within physical environments.
this was a project course with a design studio atmosphere. We explored different ways of broadening the bandwidth of interaction between people and digital information through tangible interfaces that help people learn, design, and communicate using the full range of human senses and skills. We pursued the interfaces that are not only practical, but also aesthetically engaging.

coursework focued on designing and developing experimental tangible interfaces, applications, underlying technologies, and/or theories using concept sketches, posters, physical mockups, and working prototypes. the posters and physical mockups were the basis of the studio discussion.
readings and texts
warm up exercise (cinevator poster)
analyze your interactions with everyday physical objects, analyze the meaning of the objects and their physicality, and imagine if these objects are connected to the digital world: how could it help you to access and manipulate the information OR communicated or collaborate with other people? make a poster with design sketches for a 5 minute presentation.
project one (audioPrint mockup)
make a plan of your tangible interface using graspable physical objects, make a poster with design sketches and text, and make a physical mockup for class.
project two (talking trash poster)
extension to architectural space, the human body, or your first project. make a poster, design sketches, or physical mockups.
final project (radioactivity simulation)
develop a new tangible interface or further develop one of your earlier presentation.

R.J.K. Jacob, User Interfaces
M. Brereton and B. McGarry
An Observational Study of How Objects Support Engineering Design Thinking and Communication: Implications for the design of tangible media
M. Weiser The Computer for the 21st Century
H. Ishii and B. Ullmer Tangible Bits: Towards Seamless Interfaces between People, Bits and Atoms
H. Ishii and B. Ullmer Emerging Frameworks for Tangible User Interfaces.
L. Holmquist, J. Redstrom, and P. Ljungstrand, Token-Based Access to Digital Information
David Kirsh Complimentary Strategies: Why we use our hands when we think.
David Kirsh The Intelligent Use of Space
Hinckley et al. Passive Real-World Props for Neurosurgical Visualization
Fitzmaurice et al. Bricks: Laying the Foundations for Graspable User Interfaces