Hands-on in Madeira

"It is far better to adapt the technology to the user than to force the user to adapt to the technology" Larry Marine

Late in January, UID PhD student Camille Moussette and IxD2 student Benjamin Lopez met in Madeira, Portugal to participate in the fifth international conference on tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction, TEI. This annual event focuses on presenting the latest development in Human Computer Interaction, design, interactive art, user experience, tools and technologies, with a strong focus on how computing can finally bridge atoms and bits into cohesive interactive systems.

This year, the event attracted more than 300 international participants, including many leading figures from the Interaction Design and Tangible Interaction fields. The program spanned over four days with numerous workshops, presentations, demo sessions and panel discussions. Camille Moussette presented a paper and demo titled Designing through Making: exploring the simple haptic design space. This publication was realized in collaboration with Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK). The work consists of a series of hardware sketches exploring how designers can better understand, experience and design haptic (using the sense of touch) interfaces.

Gillian Crampton Smith, professor in Interaction Design at IUAV University of Venice, presented an insightful keynote titled Bounce Back. She expressed her reflection on why tangible, embedded and embodied interfaces are not out there in our everyday world. She mentioned that despite the newest tools and latest technology, meaningful physical output is hard to do right. It requires an insatiable attention to details across modalities, materials and context-of-use.

This conference has a long tradition of being really hands-on, and this year was no exception. The demo session held Tuesday afternoon showcased more than 50 demos and art explorations. On Sunday just before the main conference, ten one-day studios also took place. Each of them offered practical activities to refine specific skills, learn new tools or to let your creativity run wild with tangible interfaces. Some examples were Building Interactive Systems Using Unconventional Electronics, Fine Bookbinding Meets Electronics and Cardboard Modelling.

To discover more about this latest edition of TEI, visit the conference website and Camille&s notes of the conference on his PhD blog. You can also find some pictures on his TEI 2011 Flickr set.