About the Workshop
The physical objects we encounter every day come in a tremendous variety of materials and shapes, which allows us to interact with them expressively and effectively. In contrast, today’s interactive surfaces (such as mobile phones, tablets, or wall displays) support input through touch on flat surfaces, usually guided by a GUI interface. While we interact on the surface, we rarely interact with it, which is in sharp contrast with how we interact with physical objects.
To start with, any display, being itself a physical object, already provides a set of physical affordances that can be exploited in a meaningful way to extend the range of possible interactions with the displayed content. Looking at the problem from the other side, we could say that understanding and exploiting the affordances of any object considered as a potential display may provide the basis for a true revolution in the field.
Everyday artifacts, parts of the body or entire architectural spaces can be recruited by a smart projection system or fitted with active displays; in the future deformable three-dimensional objects could materialize today’s virtual 3D representations; but also simple, minimalistic cues are promising means for changing the perception of our environment. It may be useful to bear in mind that future interfaces may even become indistinguishable from the represented data itself – as outlined by the “Radical Atoms” vision.
This workshop explores emerging research on alternative display types and form factors, with the goal of generating an agenda for future interactive surfaces. It covers the following topics: Improvised displays investigate the transformation of everyday objects, surfaces in the environment and body parts into displays through sensing, projection and haptic augmentation. Minimal displays provide more simple cues, e.g. a laser pointer automatically highlighting an object in the environment that the user is searching. Interaction with curved and malleable displays investigates how to communicate through the shape itself, by the user deforming the display for input and by actuating the display for output.
These research trends are accompanied by ongoing advances in projection and display hardware, smart materials and programmable matter that hold great promise for this field. They allow for ever increasing resolution and brightness, thin, flexible form factors, and haptic output. In addition, novel sensor technologies are emerging that enable capturing the physical environment and interaction with varied shapes.
We argue that this not only promises to transform our understanding of displays, but has the potential to fundamentally change how we perceive information and interact with it. Improvised, minimal and on-body displays allow for in-situ representation and access to digital information that is seamlessly integrated with the real world. Enabling the display shape to conform to the content rather than forcing content to fit to a predefined shape improves the mapping of representation to information. Malleable shapes allow people to leverage their hands more expressively, while transformable shapes can conform to varying places and modes of interaction.
ITS’12 Workshop (Cambridge, MA - November 11, 2012)
Beyond Flat Displays: Towards Shaped and Deformable Interactive Surfaces