Revisited: Tangible User Interfaces Showcase

26 Dec, 2019

Revisited: Tangible User Interfaces Showcase

On the first day of the Jacobs Winter Design Showcase on December 11, students from the “Theory and Practice of Tangible User Interfaces” course showcased nine projects that demonstrated their learnings over the course of the semester.

According to instructor and BCNM alum Adam Hutz, the class examined the sense of touch in relation to historic and theoretical dimensions of graphical user interfaces and tangible user interfaces. In a postmodern era inundated with screens, students grappled with mitigating the fear of losing tangibility.

Hutz’s students came from a wide variety of disciplines, most of whom had never used microcontrollers or created physical prototypes. Subsequently, there was a diversity of projects and interests demonstrated at the showcase.

One project, “Green Thumb,” explored the concept of a plant as a pet. Utilizing sounds and graphics, the plant is rigged to demonstrate “emotions” and follow its owners with its motion sensor capabilities.

“Rattlesnake” was a wearable haptic device dedicated to alerting runners and bikers of potentially dangerous situations. The group was inspired to create this prototype after learning about a California law that stipulates drivers to maintain a three-feet distance between bikers and cars — but, they found that there was no formal method to enforcing this regulation. As such, the device was designed to sit around the neck and vibrate to notify the user of cars less than three feet away.

“GeoFort” was designed as a “happy place” for stressed college students, fashioning an interactive geodesic dome to enhance mental wellbeing. Inside, the GeoFort helped people visualize and visit their happy place through projection mapping. There were also objects inside meant to elicit memories of common happy places, such as a seashell for a beach.

Hutz expressed how proud he was of his students for coming so far, pointing out that some of the technology presented at the showcase were not covered in the course.

Check out the photos below to learn more about the featured projects.

2019 Jacobs Design Showcase: Tangible User Interfaces