In today's office environments paper is an essential part of the work flow and the interaction with documents and information. The main advantage of using paper is that information is tangible.
In contrast, the office of tomorrow will focus on the digital acquisition of data. Therefore, the information will be less tangible then conventional printed documents. Transporting documents from one office component to another requires new metaphors and interaction devices. Therefore, we provide a TUI (Tangible User Interface) and introduce the Tangible Tiles.
Tangible Tiles combine the advantages of both graphical and tangible user interfaces. Transparent Plexiglas tiles with an approximate size of 10x15 cm are used as physical interface to improve the transportation and the manipulation of digital data.
- This TUI mainly allows users to transport documents from an office component like the interactive table to another one like the interactive wall or even the userís notebook.
- An optical tracking system enabled the Tangible Tiles to pick and drop virtual documents on the office component. Therefore, each component requires at least one camera.
- The tracking resolution can be easily increased by deploying more cameras to the tracking system.
- The tracking system itself is configurable by a configuration file and can be reused in other projects. The configuration also allows the use of a remote tracking system.
- A semi-automatic calibration allows the fast calibration of the all involved cameras.
- Beside the transportation metaphor provided by the Tangible Tiles, a predefined set of interaction functions (e.g. showing a document in fullscreen or moving and rotate a document on the display) are provided. This set of functions is not limited and can be easily extended and integrated.
An extension of the tangible tiles is provided by the mobile tangible tiles, which allow the use of mobile phones as replacement of the Plexiglas tiles. Furthermore, the previously behaviour bound to the tile by configuration is changeable by the mobile phone.