Introduction to TUI

We live in a real world, surrounded by real people & objects and interact with them in a real space; however most of our digital data and information is restricted to a set of metaphors such as keyboard, mouse and screen. Interfaces are not designed to immerse into spaces and objects, instead it forces people to interact with screen-based metaphors. We as human beings have a great ability to perform gestures, speech, remember interactions with natural objects; however computers do not use these mediums. They ask users to sit on a chair, play with keyboard, learn to use mouse, drop downs, software to know even a tiny set of information.

Here comes tangible user interfaces (TUI), where digital information is presented through interacting with physical metaphor. Physical objects play a central role as physical representations and control of digital information (augmenting physical and virtual realities). TUI thinks beyond desktop metaphor of mouse, keyboard, icon, drop-down, files, folders etc. and embeds information in real world.

There is many ways one can define Tangible User Interface (TUI), although all of them convey almost the same message. Below are the few of them

"Giving physical form to digital information that fits to our social, cultural and physical context"

"Computation that moves beyond the traditional confines of desktop & blends into our daily experiences of physical and digital world"

"Augmentation of Physical & Virtual world" "Integrating information with Everyday Physical Objects"

"Mapping physical objects to digital data" Physical environment input becomes an interface to interact with digital information as subtle changes in color, movement, smell, form, sound, light, audio, video etc.

Hiroshi Ishii and Brett Ulmer says, 
"Tangible user interface = user interfaces that augment the real physical world by coupling digital information to everyday physical objects and environment."

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