During the last few days, I’ve been doing a lot of internet surfing at the office in search for good examples of trends in user interface (UI) design for one of our award winning 360 Trend Reports.
On it’s on, that is already quite a daunting task, as there are so many things out there that it’s difficult to pick and filter everything out. To top it off, there seem to be a lot of overlapping terms to define different types of interfaces which doesn’t make it any easier when you try to organize and classify them.
But anyway, going straight to the point, one of the most interesting user interface paradigms I’ve come across not only during my search but also during my studies, is the Tangible User Interface (TUI), so I decided to dedicate this post to explaining what they are and to show a few great examples of (soon to be) products which make use of this type of interaction.
To start up, here’s my definition:
A tangible user interface is one in which the user interacts with a digital system through the manipulation of physical objects linked to and directly representing a quality of said system.
The idea with TUIs is to have a direct link between the system and the way you control it through physical manipulations by having an underlying meaning or direct relationship which connects the physical manipulations to the behaviours which they trigger on the system.