Project

PICO

Groups

PICO is a new type of human-computer interface combining the usability advantages of mechanical systems with the abstract computational power of computers. Before modern computers, mechanical devices used for computation were limited to relatively simple tasks, but easy to use and understand because operation details are observable. Computers can handle more abstract and complex tasks, but the processes are hidden and difficult to understand. We are merging software-based computation with dynamic physical processes that are exposed to and modified by the user. By designing interfaces employing the dynamic behavior of objects in the physical world as an interface vocabulary, we aim to create interfaces that allow people and computers to collaborate in novel ways. Projects include an interface for planning cellular telephone networks on an actuated tabletop sensing surface; objects on this surface are moved under software control using electromagnets, but also by users standing at the table, who can physically intervene in the computational optimization. We will investigate whether the communication bandwidth afforded by… View full description

PICO is a new type of human-computer interface combining the usability advantages of mechanical systems with the abstract computational power of computers. Before modern computers, mechanical devices used for computation were limited to relatively simple tasks, but easy to use and understand because operation details are observable. Computers can handle more abstract and complex tasks, but the processes are hidden and difficult to understand. We are merging software-based computation with dynamic physical processes that are exposed to and modified by the user. By designing interfaces employing the dynamic behavior of objects in the physical world as an interface vocabulary, we aim to create interfaces that allow people and computers to collaborate in novel ways. Projects include an interface for planning cellular telephone networks on an actuated tabletop sensing surface; objects on this surface are moved under software control using electromagnets, but also by users standing at the table, who can physically intervene in the computational optimization. We will investigate whether the communication bandwidth afforded by an interface that heavily engages the sense of touch can change the approach that experts take to solving some types of optimization problems.