PROJECTS Sheet Folding Interfaces

This project aims to generate invention reports on novel interaction techniques on mobile devices. With advent of technology in past few years, from feature phones to smartphones, wearable devices, flexible and foldable screens and shape changing interfaces, this project explores the opportunities of designing new shapes, interactions for future technologies, materials and supported devices.

Current explorations are focused on flexible materials, shape changing interfaces and related interaction techniques of mobile devices. Project in collaboration with

Mental illness is characterized by disturbances in thinking, feeling, memories, judgment etc. resulting in behavior and difficulties in coping with day-to-day activities. The project “Designing for mentally ill” involves detailed ethnography study of the behavior of mentally ill person along with analysis of their situations at different intervals devising relevant recovery methods. As an output from these explorations, using a participatory design method involving mentally ill users of a NGO – Ashadeep, a project called “Today I like” evolved. It consists of a flower shaped base and badges of different activities associated with their everyday schedule. Users are asked to choose their most liked activity and place it on the base. Once placed, the system gives audio feedback validating their placements. Through Today I Like, users will express and share various positive likings among each other and caregivers in their daily routine. It encourages physical and mental engagement through tangible interface design aiming to support and procreate positive thoughts.

Exploration 1: Sheet folding interfaces

In the present scenario, the feedback to assist users with appropriate information representation and subsequent interactions for easy navigation and manipulation uses visual, audio and haptic feedback as ways of instructing and assisting users (e.g. icons representing tools to manipulate the application etc.), however lack in-terms of usability due to high visual clutter, multiple choices, its equal preferences and weightage along with other options. Such assistances are also observed different for different operating systems (OS) and platforms. This results in inconsistency across different applications and different OS, especially for functions common across applications and devices. Hence, demanding users to learn new techniques with different interfaces and devices. This is even more difficult for variety of users, especially geriatric users and users with visual disabilities.

We present a case of a sheet-fold look-alike interface to represent different information on mobile devices. It explores single and multiple sheet-folding for shape changing interfaces for common functions across applications and devices. We presents 4 different use cases where sheet folding interfaces are used for information representation.

Sheet folding representation for scrolling

Scrolling for shape changing interface devices can be presented through multiple sheet folding on the device. For instance, scrolling for web applications is presented through sheet folding representation to demonstrate length of web pages. The interface is presented through wave like protrusions as if it’s a collected cloth, on the top end and the bottom end of the page. The number of folds on either side of the screen guides the user about the length of the webpage yet to be scrolled and the direction it is to be viewed.The total number of folds represents the information yet to be presented.

Sheet folding representation to show system status

Sheet folding representation can be used to show Loading status for the device. One fold sheet is generated from the top of the screen, further traversing down the screen to depict the loading status. When one sheet fold is generated, it will traverse down with the speed that points to the status of the loaded interface. When loading is complete, the fold will disappear through the bottom. A common use case for this could be loading a website page or an application. Similar to one sheet fold, multiple sheet folds can also be generated which will further traverse down when the website page is completely loaded.

Sheet folding for comparative interface

Sheet folding on shape changing devices can be used to do a comparison to two different entities. In this case, comparison of a picture with two different edits of the picture can be compared through a single sheet fold generated on the device. A simple swipe from the corner of the device generates a sheet fold and locates itself in the centre. The single sheet fold acts as a judgement line on the screen showing before-after status of the picture. The sheet fold can be moved to different locations, giving larger view to one picture than the other. Similarly, multiple sheet folds can be generated to view multiple comparisons on one interface. For instance, viewing multiple edits of the same picture and comparing it.

Sheet folding for information representation and related interactions

This use case presents a segment of multiple sheet fold that can protrude out (just like ridges on the physical button) of the shape changing device to represent increase or decrease the value of a function. For example, changing the volume or changing the radio station. Figure 5 showcases multiple sheets protruding out of the device to effectively change the volume. Pushing a ridge in a particular direction, the ridges in the front would level with the screen and the new ridges will emerge from behind. This will look like a wave emerging from behind and going down in the screen. This interaction would give user better control in adjusting the values and a better feedback as it closely mimics the physical button experience than slippery glass touch screen surface where they typically use the sliders. The ridges can also have variable heights. Thus, hinting the user visually about the current value of the function. e.g. in the volume button, ridges can assume greater heights in the direction of volume increase and lower heights where the volume decreases. This will visually guide the user, which direction increases the volume and which direction reduces it. Users increase of decrease the height and width of the sheets to provide their preferences. For example, increasing the height of a single sheet fold will represent preferred radio station or preferred volume.