M1
Tangible interaction in support of cooperative work

Organizers

Tone Bratteteig, University of Oslo
Lisa Ehrenstrasser, Vienna University of Technology
Michal Idziorek, Vienna University of Technology
Valerie Maquil, Vienna University of Technology

Aims

The aims of the master class are to introduce the idea and complexity of Tangible User Interfaces (TUI) and explore their potentials. We present various theoretical perspectives, and illustrate them with examples from our research and with hand-on-experiences. We invite participants to explore, observe, analyze and discuss tangible interactions in an interactive forma and expand the various possibilities of tangible interaction and its aspects of collaboration. As medium of communication we allocate an existing TUI (ColorTable) in progress for discussing and designing tangible interaction and observing collaboration. After the class the participants will

- understand the complexity of tangible interfaces in theory (concepts) and as experience
- know of various modes of collaboration offered by TUIs
- know how to use and create forms of tangible interaction in a 3D spatial arrangement.
- be able to adopt and adapt defined roles of a participative user workshop ranging from actor (group of stakeholders) to observer.

The combination of practical experiences and theoretical concepts will be a good basis for participants to explore and develop TUI concepts in their own research.

Content

The focus of the master class is to explore the potentials of collaboration and tangibles. We organize the class according to two main themes: analysis of modes of collaboration and exploration of the potentials of tangible interfaces.

Enabling simultaneous interaction – analysis of modes of collaboration using CSCW concepts

While the tangibility of the user interface supports simultaneous interaction of multiple collaborating participants and embodies some of the digital data of the explored model, the face-to-face interaction is promoted thanks to the round tabletop, which diversifies and aids many CSCW concepts (for instance Awareness). The 3D spatial arrangement of table, whiteboard, projection, content cards, command tablets, barcode and RFID reader are the setting for participants. Core aspects are spatiality - size, shape, proportion, location in space - and arrangement in relation to other artifacts and people. As Patten and Ishii [2] and Stanton et al. [3] observed, a large working space encourages or even enforces collaboration since there is no way for a single person to manipulate all objects.

Tasks:
Try, discover and observe the different modes of collaboration along a role play between actors and observers. The defined scenario (urban planning situation) provides a real setting. Various stakeholders ranging from urban planners, landlords to building authorities and so forth define the actors.
Discover the functions of the ColorTable, without guidance, by experimenting with the tangible tokens and observing the subsequent effects and find out how intuitive (or not) the interaction is.

Exploring the potential of tangibles – their integration into the interaction, their material features and how these contribute to participants’ interactions

The material artifacts take a key role in tangible user interfaces and their collaborative aspects. The tokens themselves are central to participants’ interactions with the ColorTable [4]. The different forms – circles, squares, triangles and rectangles – represent different uses while the color refers to a different content.

It is argued that ‘natural collaboration’ is supported when people assemble around a table, reach out and touch with their fingers [5]. Other participants and their physical chains of actions support coordination, while the table and the material artifacts act as mediators. The use of gestures, interventions with tokens, modifications and content manipulation extend the possibilities of collaboration and co-construction. Participants do not just have to discuss in a confrontational way face-to-face.

Tasks:
Try, discover and observe tangible interaction and the roles of materiality by designing your own tangible interaction with provided material.
Explore and simulate the design within the setting of the ColorTable along a role play between actors and observers like in the first theme.
Observe its possibilities, effects and potentials for co-operation and collaboration.

Format

Our approach combines theoretical perspectives in recent publications with hands-on-experiences on a complex tabletop interface. A short introduction in the morning will show the idea of tangible interaction and the ColorTable. The two themes will be introduced. Related works dealing with the two themes are explained. In each of the themes the participants are invited to perform and observe a series of tasks with the ColorTable and create their own perspectives of the different aspects and potentials in tangible interaction. A set of group exercises is prepared for this. Each theme ends with analyzing and discussing the findings.

Intended outcome

After the class we want participants to understand the basic ideas and concepts of Tangible User Interfaces and have become familiar with some aspects of the design of novel interfaces and methods of observation for modes of collaboration and interaction. Through experimenting and the accomplishment of different tasks on a tangible tabletop (the ColorTable) they will gain comprehensive practical knowledge and confidence to work with such an interface. Aspects of collaboration, co-operation and co-construction will have been discussed and analyzed and should provide a good basis for further research by the participants.

Target audience

Anyone interested in exploring a novel interface, observing modes of collaboration and tangible interaction. The master class will be use to a range of social scientists and technology builders - at any level of experience. There will be at maximum 10 attendees. Expression of interest should be emailed to Lisa Ehrenstrasser.

More information

http://www.media.tuwien.ac.at/v.maquil/colortable.html

References

[1] Maquil V., Psik T., Wagner I.; The ColorTable - A Design Story; Proceedings of TEI 2008, Feb 18-21, Bonn, Germany, 2008
[2] Patten, J., H. Ishii. A Comparison of Spatial Organization Strategies in Graphical and Tangible User Interfaces. In: Proceedings of Designing Augmented Reality Environments (DARE) 2000, 41-50
[3] Stanton D, Bayon V, Neale H, et al. Classroom Collaboration in the Design of Tangible Interfaces for Story Telling. In: 2001 conference on Human factors in computing systems; Seattle, Washington, United States: ACM Press; 2001. p. 482--9.
[4] Maquil V., Psik T., Wagner I., Wagner M.; Expressive Interactions Supporting Collaboration in Urban Design; Proceedings of GROUP 2007, Nov 4-7, Sanibel Island, Florida, USA, 2007
[5] Hornecker E., Marshall, P., Sheep Dalton, N., Rogers, Y. Collaboration and interference: awareness with mice or touch input. In Proceedings of the ACM 2008 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW 2008), 167-176.



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