Hiroshi Ishii, Sean Follmer, Jinha Lee, Daniel Leithinger and Xiao Xiao
People have developed sophisticated skills for sensing and manipulating our physical environments, but traditional GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) do not employ most of them. Tangible Bits builds upon these skills by giving physical form to digital information, seamlessly coupling the worlds of bits and atoms. We are designing "tangible user interfaces" that employ physical objects, surfaces, and spaces as tangible embodiments of digital information. These include foreground interactions with graspable objects and augmented surfaces, exploiting the human senses of touch and kinesthesia. We also explore background information displays that use "ambient media"—light, sound, airflow, and water movement—to communicate digitally mediated senses of activity and presence at the periphery of human awareness. We aim to change the "painted bits" of GUIs to "tangible bits," taking advantage of the richness of multimodal human senses and skills developed through our lifetimes of interaction with the physical world.