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    Mechanical constraints as computational constraints in tabletop tangible interfaces

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    This paper presents a new type of human-computer interface called Pico (Physical Intervention in Computational Optimization) based on mechanical constraints that combines some of the tactile feedback and affordances of mechanical systems with the abstract computational power of modern computers. The interface is based on a tabletop interaction surface that can sense and move small objects on top of it. The positions of these physical objects represent and control parameters inside a software application, such as a system for optimizing the configuration of radio towers in a cellular telephone network. The computer autonomously attempts to optimize the network, moving the objects on the table as it changes their corresponding parameters in software. As these objects move, the user can constrain their motion with his or her hands, or many other kinds of physical objects. The interface provides ample opportunities for improvisation by allowing the user to employ a rich variety of everyday physical objects as mechanical constraints. This approach leverages the user's mechanical intuition for how objects respond to physical forces. As well, it allows the user to balance the numerical optimization performed by the computer with other goals that are difficult to quantify. Subjects in an evaluation were more effective at solving a complex spatial layout problem using this system than with either of two alternative interfaces that did not feature actuation.

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    Description

    Title : Mechanical constraints as computational constraints in tabletop tangible interfaces
    Author(s) : James Patten, Hiroshi Ishii
    Abstract : This paper presents a new type of human-computer interface called Pico (Physical Intervention in Computational Optimization) based on mechanical constraints that combines some of the tactile feedback and affordances of mechanical systems with the abstract computational power of modern computers. The interface is based on a tabletop interaction surface that can sense and move small objects on top of it. The positions of these physical objects represent and control parameters inside a software application, such as a system for optimizing the configuration of radio towers in a cellular telephone network. The computer autonomously attempts to optimize the network, moving the objects on the table as it changes their corresponding parameters in software. As these objects move, the user can constrain their motion with his or her hands, or many other kinds of physical objects. The interface provides ample opportunities for improvisation by allowing the user to employ a rich variety of everyday physical objects as mechanical constraints. This approach leverages the user's mechanical intuition for how objects respond to physical forces. As well, it allows the user to balance the numerical optimization performed by the computer with other goals that are difficult to quantify. Subjects in an evaluation were more effective at solving a complex spatial layout problem using this system than with either of two alternative interfaces that did not feature actuation.
    Subject : unspecified
    Area : Other
    Language : English
    Year : 2007

    Affiliations MIT Media Lab
    Journal : Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computi
    Publisher : ACM Press
    City : New York, New York, USA
    Pages : 809 -
    Url : http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1240624.1240746
    Isbn : 9781595935939
    Doi : 10.1145/1240624.1240746

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