Monday, April 12, 2010

CHI '08 (assignment): Reality-based interaction: a framework for post-WIMP interfaces

(Comment left on Brandon Jarratt's blog

Robert J.K. Jacob Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Audrey Girouard Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Leanne M. Hirshfield Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Michael S. Horn Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Orit Shaer Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Erin Treacy Solovey Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Jamie Zigelbaum MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA, USA

Paper Link:

In this paper, Jacob et. al. discuss the emerging methods of human computer broadly referred to as reality based interfaces (RBI) and identify the unifying themes and concepts of these methods.

The research team first notes that human computer interaction was initially done via command line instructions that were typed in through a keyboard. This method of interaction was cumbersome and relied on knowledge of the command the computer would accept. It was difficult to use in part because users could not use preconceived notions of interaction.

Next they identified that the current generation of HCI is direct manipulation of 2 widgets commonly known as window, icon, menu, pointing device (WIMP) interfaces.

Finally the emerging methods of interaction are reality based interaction (RBI) that they define as drawing from four overarching themes:
1) Naive Physics
2) Body Awareness & Skills
3) Environment Awareness & Skills
4) Social Awareness & Skills

The team notes that using RBI themes may enhance or inhibit:
Expressive Power

The team uses Superman as an analogy saying that a strictly reality based representation of Superman would only allow Superman to walk and see like a regular man, but instead reality is traded off for the extra functionality of flight and X-ray vision.

The team demonstrates the four themes of RBI and the resulting tradeoffs in several case studies:
1) URP (a tangible user interface for urban planning)
2) Apple iPhone
3) Electronic Tourist Guide
4) Visual-Cliff Virtual Environment

The research team hopes this paper provides a scheme that unites the divergent user interfaces into a common framework that will be adopted by interface designers to create better systems in the future and that their research also provides a method to analyze future interfaces.

My Spill:

While their work is an interesting summary of reality based interfaces, I feel like this research didn't generate anything we didn't already know.
Reality is an ever emerging theme in CHI
and using reality based interfaces introduces several considerations and tradeoffs.

That's essentially all this paper was.
I'd like to see them present a set of ideal interfaces for a system or something.

The Superman analogy was nice.

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