ZeroN: Mid-air Tangible Interaction Enabled by Computer-Controlled Magnetic Levitation

Jinha Lee, Rehmi Post, Hiroshi Ishii


This paper presents ZeroN, a new tangible interface element that can be levitated and moved freely by computer in a three dimensional space. ZeroN serves as a tangible rep-resentation of a 3D coordinate of the virtual world through which users can see, feel, and control computation. To ac-complish this, we developed a magnetic control system that can levitate and actuate a permanent magnet in a pre-defined 3D volume. This is combined with an optical tracking and display system that projects images on the levitating object. We present applications that explore this new interaction modality. Users are invited to place or move the ZeroN object just as they can place objects on surfaces. For example, users can place the sun above physical objects to cast digital shadows, or place a planet that will start revolving based on simulated physical conditions. We describe the technology and interaction scenarios, discuss initial observations, and outline future development.

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