Tangible Interactions and Social Computing

22 01 2008

THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA IN COMPUTING – INTRODUCING TANGIBLE INTERACTIONS AND SOCIAL COMPUTINGIn the beginning computers were operated by electrical impulses or connections…then it went over to symbols and punched holes…after a while computers went over to text… the next thing you know we have graphical computing, making computers accessible and maneuverable for most of us… now we really can start using this magnificent tool for what its worth…the era of tangible and social computing is here to stay…   


‘Tangible Interaction’ denotes systems that rely on
– tangibility / materiality
– bodily / embodied interaction
– physical representation of data
– embeddedness in real space, and augmentation of physical spaces.

In different systems these characteristics can be of various intensity. Tangible Interaction is an umbrella term, which encompasses approaches from HCI (human computer interaction), computer science, product design and the interactive arts.With tangible interaction we act (or move) in physicalspace and in system space (software). Software definesvirtual structure, determining the interaction flow. Physicalspace prescribes physical structure. Both types of structureallow, direct, and limit behavior, determining usage optionsand behavior patterns. Thus, they shape the ways we cancollaborate; they can induce us to collaborate or make usrefrain from it. Tangible interaction systems embodystructure. Design can enforce social structure and we canlearn from facilitation and pedagogical methods how to dothis (for a full account of this theme see Hornecker 2005). 

A tangible user interface (TUI) is a user interface in which a person interacts with digital information through the physical environment. The initial name was Graspable User Interface, which no longer is used.One of the pioneers in tangible user interfaces is Hiroshi Ishii, a professor in the MIT Media Laboratory who heads the Tangible Media Group. His particular vision for tangible UIs, called Tangible Bits, is to give physical form to digital information, making bits directly manipulable and perceptible. Tangible bits pursues seamless coupling between these two very different worlds of bits and atoms.

A example of a tangible user interface – Augmented Reality

projection_augmented_model_1.jpg projection_augmented_model_2.jpg

Projection Augmented Models A Projection Augmented model (PA model) consists of a physical three-dimensional model, onto which a computer image is projected to create a realistic looking object Importantly, the physical model is the same geometric shape as the object that the PA model depicts. For example, the image projected onto the objects shown in this picture provides color and visual texture, which makes them appear to be made from different materials.

Social computing is a general term for an area of computer science that is concerned with the intersection of social behavior and computational systems. It is used in two ways.In the weaker sense of the term, social computing has to do with supporting any sort of social behavior in or through computational systems. It is based on creating or recreating social conventions and social contexts through the use of software and technology. Thus, blogs, email, instant messaging, social network services, wikis, social bookmarking and other instances of what is often called social software illustrate ideas from social computing, but also auction software and other kinds of electronic market or electronic negotiation platforms where people interact socially.In the stronger sense of the term, social computing has to do with supporting “computations” that are carried out by groups of people, an idea that has been popularized in James Surowiecki‘s book, The Wisdom of Crowds. Examples of social computing in this sense include collaborative filtering, online auctions, prediction markets, reputation systems, computational social choice, tagging, and verification games.




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