Original Article

Virtual Reality

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 4-10

First online:

Affordances in the design of enactive systems

  • Thomas A. StoffregenAffiliated withSchool of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota Email author 
  • , Benoît G. BardyAffiliated withFaculty of Sport and Movement Sciences, Université Montpellier I
  • , Bruno MantelAffiliated withFaculty of Sport and Movement Sciences, Université Montpellier I

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Enactive interfaces must incorporate intuitive activity that characterizes naturalistic perception. However, the manner in which information is presented is not more important than the contents: what information is presented. In this contribution, we address the contents of perception. We argue that people perceive affordances, that is, the possible actions that are available in any given situation. We further argue that enactive interfaces should be designed to optimize presentation of information about the possible actions that are available to a person using the enactive interface. The design of enactive interfaces might be guided by an extension of the theory of ecological interface design (Vicente in Hum Factors 44:62–78, 2002) to include multimodal information that is accessed through fast, intuitive exploratory movement. We review two empirical studies that illustrate our arguments. Careful analysis of affordances, together with our increasing understanding of the enactive perception of affordances, should influence the design of enactive interfaces.


Affordances Perception-action Multimodal perception Enactive perception