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Terrenghi, Lucia (2007): Designing Hybrid Interactions through an Understanding of the Affordances of Physical and Digital Technologies. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics
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Abstract

Two recent technological advances have extended the diversity of domains and social contexts of Human-Computer Interaction: the embedding of computing capabilities into physical hand-held objects, and the emergence of large interactive surfaces, such as tabletops and wall boards. Both interactive surfaces and small computational devices usually allow for direct and space-multiplex input, i.e., for the spatial coincidence of physical action and digital output, in multiple points simultaneously. Such a powerful combination opens novel opportunities for the design of what are considered as hybrid interactions in this work. This thesis explores the affordances of physical interaction as resources for interface design of such hybrid interactions. The hybrid systems that are elaborated in this work are envisioned to support specific social and physical contexts, such as collaborative cooking in a domestic kitchen, or collaborative creativity in a design process. In particular, different aspects of physicality characteristic of those specific domains are explored, with the aim of promoting skill transfer across domains. irst, different approaches to the design of space-multiplex, function-specific interfaces are considered and investigated. Such design approaches build on related work on Graspable User Interfaces and extend the design space to direct touch interfaces such as touch-sensitive surfaces, in different sizes and orientations (i.e., tablets, interactive tabletops, and walls). These approaches are instantiated in the design of several experience prototypes: These are evaluated in different settings to assess the contextual implications of integrating aspects of physicality in the design of the interface. Such implications are observed both at the pragmatic level of interaction (i.e., patterns of users' behaviors on first contact with the interface), as well as on user' subjective response. The results indicate that the context of interaction affects the perception of the affordances of the system, and that some qualities of physicality such as the 3D space of manipulation and relative haptic feedback can affect the feeling of engagement and control. Building on these findings, two controlled studies are conducted to observe more systematically the implications of integrating some of the qualities of physical interaction into the design of hybrid ones. The results indicate that, despite the fact that several aspects of physical interaction are mimicked in the interface, the interaction with digital media is quite different and seems to reveal existing mental models and expectations resulting from previous experience with the WIMP paradigm on the desktop PC.