Visual representation of tangible interaction

A nice approach to communicate multimodal streams originating from devices.
Tufte would be pround.

The representation of sound and vibration uses waveforms, showing amplitude over time. Although this is quite limited, it seems to be a useful shorthand for communicating a small range of tangible feedback.

via Visual representation of tangible interaction.

Design methodologies in RFID

I will definitely look into this paper on designing location-aware everyday objects by Martinussen and Arnall

that just fall onto my desk from pasta and vinegar. I always wondered what can be seriously made with a thing that small and simple in it’s capabilities such as is RFID. Especially the design methodologies as p&v points out are quite interesting.

Designing with RFID by Einar Sneve Martinussen and Timo Arnall is an highly interesting read if you’re into alternative visions to the internet of things. Based on what the authors call “a practice-driven design approach“, through sketching, making and form-explorations, they explore the possibilities for richer design of RFID products in everyday contexts.

However, I was even more interested by the design methodologies proposed in the paper. The way the articulate different techniques, such as sketching, modeling, form exploration or evaluation, is original and curious. What is relevant to me is the clear definition of a purpose (”to gain a rich working knowledge of the kinds of design qualities that RFID objects may embody“) and the way they proposed different investigation phases: [...]

[From Original design thinking approach to RFID research via Pasta & Vinegar]

Abstract of the paper

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that is emerging in consumer products as a method for input and interaction. Although RFID is relatively well known from a technical perspective, the methods for designing with RFID are less well understood, particularly the tangible and physical aspects of RFID form. Using a practice-driven design approach we explore the possibilities for richer design of RFID products in everyday contexts. Through sketching, making and formexplorations we build a visual and physical design vocabulary for RFID forms. This includes properties such as direction, balance, ergonomics and geometry that are communicated through designfocused language and visualisations.


	Address = {New York, NY, USA},
	Author = {Martinussen, Einar Sneve and Arnall, Timo},
	Booktitle = {TEI '09: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction},
	Pages = {343--350},
	Publisher = {ACM},
	Title = {Designing with RFID},
	Year = {2009}

Soldering a Mutitouch Surface

[Together with René]

Aspects of my Work

Till Bovermann: Aspects of my Work

With this chart I try to show relations between mostly tangible computing applications I designed and developed together with colleagues during the last 4 years.
Wow. Sometimes making a rough chart of what you’re doing in your daytime job takes a lot of time. I really like this organic kind-of structure. This chart, by the way, is intended to be interactive: first, it is possible to click on the applications, which hides all other apps, and secondly, the used application (OmniOutliner) allows to easily reconfigure the nodes’ and edges’ positions. There is, however, no straight way to convert these features into something web-friendly. If you are curious, please feel free to contact me.

Tangible Radio Tuner Rocky Radio

Natural Radio2-1A bit counterintuitive is this design study of a radio. FM-frequency and volume are controlled by placing stones and pebbles on the radio box. The weight in the volume or tuning area determines the volume, respectively the tuning.Honestly, for me this looks a bit like many pseudo-intuitive works, which all try to get more out of a given concept by applying <em>intuitiveness</em>. Unfortunately they all fail when it comes to real usability, though I don’t know if this particular example tries to be usable at all (as a radio rather then a sculpture). I think usability itself does not end at the hardware design, but should include the software interface (here, the way volume and tuning are determined based on the pebbles). It is not sufficient to replace standard controllers by new ones, in case of the Rocky Radio, also the underlying controlling mechanism has to be changed. For example by linking predefined frequencies to given stones or combination of stones. For me, what counts is not the fact of using a new hardware interface, but rather a new concept, namely the linkage of stones, i.e. graspable, tangible real world artifacts to digital information.The above-described problem of hardware designs also applies the other way round; having a favorites system attached to a standard, button-equipped HCI interface fails in adding really new and better HCI techniques. The absence of an analog slider that shows the current frequency, adjustable by a knob prevents users to manually adjust the tuning to a frequency. Their radio experience is fixed to the tuner’s capability to find appropriate tunings.So, I suggest to think of both, the hardware and the software control structure when designing new interfaces for existing technology. 
[via Rocky Radio—Yanko Design]

Being Artifact

Image of Falzbein, LFSaw 2008A Folding Leg.
It is intended to be used for preparing a piece of paper or cardboard to be folded along a given path. It is about 16cm by 2cm by 2mm. It is not square, but its edges are rounded. It is flat, formed a bit like a wing. It is made of bone, its main color is antique-white (R: 255, G: 239, B:219). It has a hole with a diameter of 1mm on its one end, which approximately marks the center of the circle defined by the rounded edges. This hole may be used to blow through it, though it will not produce a whistle, more a hiss. When striking a soft material with it, you may recognize its tiny but recognizable vibration.
However, hardly anyone reading this will ever do this with this Folding Leg. And in difference to more modern things in the world this Folding Leg is a real artifact, something hand-crafted and unique. It is made of bone. An organic material, lasting for centuries. Perhaps my great-grandchild will stumble over it, wondering for it’s usage. When did you last bought something with such an ability to sustain? Moreover it is still possible for me to even more personalize it. I could scribe my name into it.
I now declare this Folding Leg to be a Readymade piece of art called Falzbein.

Now, it’s Art.

As the creator of this, well, sculpture I issue the injunction that this piece of art should never be put into a frame or into a show case. It was created to be used as a piece of art while being used as a tool for whatever you may want to use it.

An artifact can neither be defined by its form, function, material, haptic, color, context, or life-cycle, etc., nor can it be fully described by a finite sum of these characteristics. Its seems that it needs an infinity number of features to fully describe it as a unique item of the world.

[LFSaw, 2008]

On haptic Symbols

cuboro Recently I bought me a cuboro standard marble track consisting out of 54 wooden cubes with several holes. They provide 12 different functionalities, e.g. bends, straights, level.-changes, etc.

These haptic modules build some kind of basis for possible marble tracks which can be build.
After a while of happily building different tracks and testing what is possible (and what not) I discovered that although the cubes do not have any haptic connections, such as lego or fisher-technik blocks do have – they have to be put together in the right way to build a valid (read working) marble track.

A Scenario

Take three cubes and place them on your desk like this:

marble track

now, flip the whole aggregate by 90 degree; it seems to be still a valid Marble track.
cubes flipped cubes flipped, view 2 Apart from the fact that the marble will not run through it anymore. At least part number 9 (where the marble is placed on in the last images) seems to be odd having its newly defined input at the wrong position (and with a non-runnable curvature inside). Apart from this, also this flipped track is not usable in a bigger marble track scenario; the connection points are on the wrong places.
What makes me wonder is that it still feel or looks right.
Being not usable in a way is useful – restrictions force creativity – however, the way the limitations in this example are conciliated just feels to be wrong. I think that is, because of the cubes do not haptically inform or forbid to put them together flipped (in contradiction to other brick-building toys). Here it is easy to do things wrong, since it simply does not run correctly in the end.
Having “only” 12 different sorts of cubes available soon makes one feel a bit too limited. Result: at least six months not really using and building tracks.

By experimenting with the cuboro setup I discovered that it is possible to define something perhaps named haptic symbols. Using the language means to combine symbols (wooden cubes) to sentences (tracks) and speak (run a marble in the track). As in other languages, it is nearly impossible to abuse the grounding symbols and still have a valid sentence.

On my birthday some of my friends (many thanx to you all!) made me a birthday present by giving to me a cuboro extension pack (the metro box containing 24 additional cubes with 12 additional functions to the standard set). Yuppie! Having the number of available (known?) symbols doubled means at least the possibility to square the complexity of sentences to speak. Now I speak a lot again.

[ cuboro home ]

Extending Paper

Dsc00186-Converted Yesterday, a colleague was counting gestures in a spreadsheet. I wondered about these little post-its; she answered that the field was already filled with ticks, so she had to extend it in a way… looks a bit like hand-made memory extensions. I really like this idea.
Think on trying this with a computer. Of course you may just extent the length of the column, or just type the number of counted items, but it would not feel the same anymore.
Using numbers is uncomfortable, since our symbols for numbers are, well a bit too symbolic. You cannot change, say 7 to 8 with simply adding a tick or something.
Using ticks and extending the cell may turns the table into something unreadable. In the physical representation (read paper with post-it-addons) you still have the feeling of mass when having multiple paper add-ons layered onto each other.


The Framework for TUIO-based tangible computing with SuperCollider now is called SETO – SuperCollider Environment for Tangible Objects.

You may install it in SuperCollider by evaluating

Quarks.install("TUIO") // still the old name...

and then restarting the interpreter.
If you have a GUI app (Cocoa or SwingOSC atm.) you may want to use TUIOServer:gui to see the recognized objects and their states.
More information can be found at the SETO home and the TUIO home.
Have fun and feel free to contact me if something isn’t working right.

[SETO home | TUIO home]

Schalen der Welt

Dscf4238-1 Dscf4239-1
[ images by courtesy thomas – thanx :-) ]

Neulich im Bahn-Blättchen: Young-Jae Lee. Elfhundertelf Schalen. Zur Ausstellung in der Pinakothek der Moderne. Die koreanische Keramikerin produzierte 1111 Schalen mit ihren Händen, glasierte sie und stellte sie auf den Boden der Pinakothek. Jede Schale ein wenig anders; jede verdient ungeteilte Aufmerksamkeit.

Man meint den Prototyp einer Schale zu kennen, jedoch ist jede konkrete Manifestation anders als alle anderen; sie hat etwas einzigartiges, aber dennoch vertrautes. Ja es gibt Teeschalen die, wie John Maeda es treffend erwähnt, die Perfektion des Imperfekten sind.

Auch die Schalen der amerikanischen Künstlerin Joan Lederman scheinen einem vollständig vertraut zu sein. Allerdings bekommen sie eine ganz andere Bedeutung, wenn man erfährt, dass sie ihre Werke mit Sedimenten vom Meeresgrund glasiert. Ansonsten abstrakte Eigenschaften wie sie das Gestein des Meeresgrunds hat kann man plötzlich erfahren und anfassen; der haptische und visuelle Eindruck ermöglicht den Vergleich zwischen dem ansonsten unnahbaren Sediment und üblichen Glasuren.
Eine solche Schale anzufassen, dieses Gefühl von greifbarer Wissenschaft in den Händen halten zu können… ist leider etwas teuer…

1111 Schalen: [ Goetheinstitut | Home (in bisschen outdated) | Pinakothek ]
Joan Lederman: [ Interview at The Cape and Islands NPR stations | The Soft Earth ]

Juggling Sounds

Es war, und es war gut. Allerdings auch etwas anstrengend, aber es hat viel Spass gemacht. Im Augenblick arbeite ich an dem aufgenommenen Videomaterial, und werde demnächst Ausschnitte im Netz veröffentlichen. Bis dahin noch einmal vielen Dank an alle, die diese Veranstaltung möglich gemacht haben, insbesondere an das SonEnvir-Team.
Img 6038 Img 6058 Img 6067
[Pics by TB, CF, CF]

(Danke fürs Bildermachen, Christopher)


A nice work by Nicolas Villar at the Embedded Interactive Systems, Lancaster University UK:
VoodooIO. Basically it is on designing User Interfaces build by knobs, sliders and other one-finger stuff on an conductive fabric. The project evolved out of the Pin&Play project which provides the one-pin technology to communicate with the computer.
The result is as WmMnA says “[...] a bit like you have this home entertainment system and instead of using a giant remote control you just pin a few buttons into your couch to control it.”

[image by VoodooIO]

It’s a bit like having all the modular controls as they appear in my JInT classes[1] as hardware pins.

[via WmMnA]
[1] which I introduced at the SuperCollider Symposium, 2006, Birmingham

Terrain of Information, MUI and Sonic Finder

A nice work on using haptics in HCI called Terrain of information is shown at Interaction-Ivrea.
A mouse-like interface attached with a convertable surface is used to navigate through a (for now faked) apple Finder window. Each direktory hovered over with the “mouse” is represented by a bump on the surface. It’s size directly corresponds to the size of the hovered directory.

[image from We make money not art ]

This reminds me of two earlier works:

  • A work done at Bielefeld University in the iLab by Matthias Milczynski et al. called A malleable device with applications to sonification-based data exploration or in short MUI [ abstract and sound examples | paper ]
  • The Sonic Finder by William Gaver, an extension/replacement to the Finder as found in MacOS. Information like the size of the selected directory are presented to the user by an auditory feedback.

MUI in action
[image from the MUI as it appears in the paper]

[ Terrain of information via We make money not art | Interaction-Ivrea ]

Tangible Data Container

Mit Tangible Interfaces bezeichnet man physikalische Repräsentationen und deren Manipulation von digitalen Daten. Meistens handelt es sich bei solchen Interfaces um Tische und Objekte auf den Tischen, auf die dann vielleicht noch projiziert wird.
Wenn es um Informationsvermittlung geht, gibt es jedoch auch mindestens zwei von Tischen unabhängige Designstudien:

Der USB flash bag zeigt durch seine Dicke an wieviel Speicher schon belegt ist. [via infosthetics]

InSync ist eine Designstudie über eine (Backup-)Festplatte, die anzeigt wie stark ihr inhalt mit dem zu sichernden übereinstimmt. Je mehr sie verdreht ist, desto weniger Übereinstimmungen existieren. [via infosthetics &]

Meiner Ansicht nach besteht der Charme der beiden Studien darin, dass in beiden Fällen haptische Eigenschaften, also die im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes erfassbare Geometrie in direktem Zusammenhang zu den enthaltenen Informationen steht. Es gibt keinerlei komplizierte Interpretation, alles ist haptisch erfahrbar, und wenn man die Gegenstände nicht fassen kann, ist der visuelle Sinn auch in der Lage dem Nutzer einen Überblick über den inneren Zustand des Objektes zu verschaffen.
Redundanz rockt.

Gibt es noch weitere Tangible Data Container? Schreibt mir links in meine comments…


Hier zu bewundern ist die CrackleBox, ein live-elektronik Instrument mit seltsamen (oscillierenden) Schaltungen, welche

  1. durch Kurzschluss per Finger auf der Spielfläche angeregt werden und Klänge erzeugen, und
  2. ein heftiges Eigenleben führen.

Dadurch wird es möglich auf der einen Seite selbst Musik zu machen, allerdings nur in gewissem Maße auf die resultierenden Klänge Einfluss zu nehmen.
Genial, einfach und komplex in einem. Ich bin noch am überlegen mir eine zuzulegen.

Ach ja, die resuliterenden Klänge sind für den Spieler selbst interessant, es wird für andere aber schnell nervig…

Kleiner Einblick

Was mache ich wohl? Richtig, arbeiten…

Und hier noch etwas mehr Einblick…
ratet’s was es wird?

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