Zork Automated Typewriter

This project, by Jonathan Guberman, is interesting from the Tangible User Interface perspective as it physically types the words onto the same piece of paper as you are typing on. In short, this means that the input (your typing) occurs through the same physical means as the output (the computers typing)… this is in contrast to the laptop, where there is a disconnect between the users input (on the keyboard) and the computers output (on the screen).
Anyway, in addition to being interested in the project from the TUI perspective, it also happens to play Zork as shown in the video below:

More info on the project homepage.
[via: Make]

Collapsable Interface

Had heard of this before, but hadn’t seen the video. Looks like an interesting direction for tangibly interacting with screen media. Would be great to see a selection of different collapsable tools (particularly ones for manipulating sounds!)
[via: Make]

Skin Communication Tangibles

Here’s an idea: Tangible interfaces where data is transferred between the tangible object via the users skin. No need for wireless communication, and there may be a way of using this technology for sensing which tangibles the user is holding. Interesting stuff.

“Gadget geeks, prepare to get wired in a whole new way — researchers at Korea University in Seoul recently discovered a way to transmit data directly through the human body at broadband speeds by using the arm as a conduit. The researchers placed two electrodes 12 inches apart on a subject’s skin and were able to clock data transmission rates of 10 megabits per second.”

[via: Inhabitat]

Dubious Tangible Interface Equation (#1)

I just bought 50 real cardboard folders to organise my PhD thesis. This has led me to wonder how much it would cost to physically replace all the digital folders currently in the ‘PhD’ folder on my laptop (whilst also providing a short procrastination exercise to avoid doing writing).

  • PhD folder on the laptop contains 3834 folders (and a total of 47,578 items)
  • Cardboard folders are 20p each.
  • Total to replace virtual folders with real ones = £766.80

This is rather expensive, and shows that even tangible user interfaces that use paper and card for the tangible objects (such as the D-Touch system) aren’t really scalable to the same degree as a purely digital systems if used in a one-to-one manner. I think a big problem for tangible interfaces if they are going to become regularly used is the scalability of the interface and importantly the cost of each tangible. However, it would be great if something like the Siftables only cost 20p each!

Quick terminal tip from here on how to count folders in a hierarchy:
find “PhD/” ! -name “*.*” | wc -l


Just been writing up on the DataTiles in the background section of my thesis, and realised I’d never seen them in action. A quick search found this video. A very modular tangible interface with lots of possible design possibilities.