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Physical Devices

While computers are often thought of as consisting of a monitor, keyboard and mouse, there are actually many other possibilities. From cell phones and MP3 players to medical devices, and even furry robotic animals - we have been exploring the range of ways that people can interact with computers.  Human senses are not limited to vision, and include touch and hearing. Our research at HCIL on physical interfaces is concerned with the development of new physical interfaces which broaden the use of computers outside the standard computer environments. We believe that by changing the place where users and technolgy meet, we can make new work, play, living and learning experiences possible.

Past Projects

Animal Blocks Screenshot

Animal Blocks
Our design team partnered with Neurosmith to design an animal version of MusicBlocks, an educational toy for young children.

CrossY: A Crossing Based Drawing Application Screenshot
Dual/Multi Display Electronic Readers Screenshot

Dual/Multi Display Electronic Readers
Existing electronic reading devices don't adequately support the different types of reading people perform. We explored interface designs for a two-screen reading device that allow it to improve the reading experience. To perform our exploration we created a series of prototypes, ranging from low-fi paper to a fully-functioning electronic reading device with two detachable, motion-sensitive faces

High-Precision Touchscreens: Museum Kiosks, Home Automation and Touchscreen Keyboards Screenshot

High-Precision Touchscreens: Museum Kiosks, Home Automation and Touchscreen Keyboards
Between 1987 and 1991 HCIL worked on a series of touchscreen projects for museum kiosks, home automation, and text data entry.

Mobile Collaboration for Young Children Screenshot

Mobile Collaboration for Young Children
Mobile devices can support the learning experience as children create narratives in various contexts. Mobile device limitations can be overcome by bringing people and devices together. In addition, social interaction and collaboration are essential to the emotional and cognitive development of young children.

ModelCraft Screenshot

With the availability of affordable new desktop fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting, physical models are used increasingly often during the architectural and industrial design cycle.

PETS: A Personal Electronic Teller of Stories Screenshot

PETS: A Personal Electronic Teller of Stories
These robotic animals enabled children to be storytellers. Now it is a commercial product from Anthrotronix called CosmoBot.

ProofRite Screenshot

Single Display Groupware / Multiple Input Devices
A Java toolkit to support several simultaneous users of a single computer at the same time.

StoryRooms Screenshot

Children are able to build their own rooms to tell their own stories using mobile and embedded technologies.

Tangible Flags Screenshot

Tangible Flags
Using Tangible Flags, children on field trips can easily collaborate to create and connect digital information to the real world, but also have the flexibility to explore independently.

Therapeutic Play with a Storytelling Robot Screenshot

Therapeutic Play with a Storytelling Robot
Using the PETS technologies for a more engaging physical therapy experience. This became the commercial product from Antrotronix.

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