Gill, S., Walker, D., Loudon, G., Dix, A., Woolley, A., Ramduny-Ellis, D. and Hare, J. (2008): Rapid Development of Tangible Interactive Appliances: Achieving the Fidelity / Time Balance, in Hornecker, E., Schmidt, A. and Ullmer, B. (eds.) In Special Issue on Tangible and Embedded Interaction, International Journal of Arts and Technology, Volume 1, No. 3/4, pp 309 – 331 Online ISSN 1754-8861, print ISSN 1754-8853.
DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2008.022365

Rapid Development of Tangible Interactive Appliances: Achieving the Fidelity / Time Balance

For some years now, the global academic and industry research communities have been working at developing techniques to rapidly design and develops information appliances such as mobile phones, MP3 players and digital cameras. Despite significant advances in the methods available for the prototyping of tangible interactive prototypes, many if not most industrial design practitioners and many UI designers still rely on two dimensional, software only interactive prototypes, particularly early in the design process when many key decisions are made. A number of attempts have been made to tackle this issue, and one of the core assumptions in many of the approaches so far taken is that designers need to be able to make ‘quick and dirty’; prototypes in order to evaluate the tangible interactions of their concepts early in the design process. Some attempts have been made to examine how quick or how dirty the prototyping process can be for software only applications but to date no one has carried out a similar exercise for information appliance prototypes.
This paper presents the results of three separate experiments and presents empirical data that suggest answers to two important questions: Are tangible prototypes better than software prototypes? and ‘how ‘quick and dirty’ should industrial designers be aiming to prototype?’
The paper concludes by discussing the findings’ significance and suggesting the implications for further work.

Keywords: Interaction, design, fidelity levels, information appliance, product design, prototyping, design development, computer embedded products

Ramduny-Ellis, D., Hare, J. Dix, A. and Gill, S. (2008) Exploring Physicality in the Design Process. In Undisciplined! Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2008, Durling, D., Rust, C., Chen, L., Ashton, P. and Friedman, K. (editors) Published 2009 by Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. ISBN: 978-1-84387-293-1
full paper from DRS2008 online proceedings

Exploring Physicality in the Design Process

The design process used in the development of many products we use daily and the nature of the products themselves are becoming increasingly digital. Although our whole world is turning ever more digital, our bodies and minds are naturally conceived to interact with the physical. Very often, in the design of user-targeted information appliances, the physical and digital processes are formulated separately and usually, due to cost factors, they are only brought together for user testing at the end of the development process. This not only makes major design changes more difficult but it can also significantly affect the users’ level of acceptance of the product and their experience of use. It is therefore imperative that designers explore the relationship between the physical and the digital form early on in the development process, when one can rapidly work through different sets of ideas. The key to gaining crucial design information from products lies in the construction of meaningful prototypes. This paper specifically examines how physical materials are used during the early design stage and seeks to explore whether the inherent physical properties of these artefacts and the way that designers interpret and manipulate them have a significant impact on the design process. We present the findings of a case study based on information gathered during a design exercise. Detailed analysis of the recordings reveals far more subtle patterns of behaviour than expected. These include the ways in which groups move between abstract and concrete discussions, the way groups comply with or resist the materials they are given, and the complex interactions between the physicality of materials and the group dynamics. This understanding is contributing to ongoing research in the context of our wider agenda of explicating the fundamental role of physicality in the design of hybrid physical and digital artefacts.

Keywords: Physicality; Digitality; Product Design; Design Process; Prototyping; Materials

Dix, A., Sas, C., Ramduny-Ellis, D., Gill, S., and Hare, J. (2008) Sociality, Physicality and Spatiality: touching private and public displays. In Proceedings of Workshop on Designing Multi-touch Interaction Techniques for Coupled Public and Private Displays (PP08), AVI 2008 (31 May 2008), Naples, Italy.

Sociality, Physicality and Spatiality: touching private and public displays

This paper considers two strands of research that each contributes to an understanding of touch-based interaction with private and public displays. The first is based on general frameworks for private device-public display interaction, which is driven by the growing body of work in the area, but focuses on the level of integration of public and private devices and the importance of understanding social setting and bystanders. The second strand is centred on physicality; how different kinds of physical device impact interaction and how modelling of touch-based devices causes particular problems that require notations and formalisms of continuous and bodily interaction.

Keywords: public displays, touch interaction, spatial interaction, physicality