Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 333–344 | Cite as

Bridging the physical and virtual worlds by local connectivity-based physical selection

  • Heikki AilistoEmail author
  • Lauri Pohjanheimo
  • Pasi Välkkynen
  • Esko Strömmer
  • Timo Tuomisto
  • Ilkka Korhonen
Original Article


The prevalent visions of ambient intelligence emphasise natural interaction between user and functions and services embedded in the environment or available through mobile devices. In these scenarios the physical and virtual worlds seamlessly gear into each other, making crossing the border between these worlds natural or even invisible to the user. The bottleneck in reaching these scenarios appear in the natural mapping between the physical objects and their virtual counterparts. The emergence of local connectivity in mobile devices opens possibilities for implementing novel user interface paradigms to enhance this mapping. We present physical selection paradigm for implementing an intuitive human technology interaction for mobile devices. In order to demonstrate the feasibility of the paradigm we implemented two experimental set-ups using commercially available smart phones with IrDA connectivity. The experiments involved selecting a website by physically pointing at its symbol and making a phone call by pointing at an icon representing the person to be called. In tentative user experiments the physical selection method was more time-efficient and it was perceived more positively by the users than a conventional method.


Physical browsing Ambient intelligence Mobile device Cellular phone RFID Near field communication User interface HCI 



The authors wish to thank B.Sc.(Eng.) Sanna Boström for implementing the phone call trial with the two elderly test subjects.


  1. 1.
    Aarts E, Marzano S (eds) (2003) The new everyday: visions of ambient intelligence. 010 Publishing, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ailisto H, Plomp J, Pohjanheimo L, Strömmer E (2003) Physical selection paradigm for ubiquitous computing. In: Aarts E et al (eds) EUSAI 2003. Lecture notes in computer science, vol 2875. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bunszel C (2001) Magnetic induction: a low-power wireless alternative. RFDesign 24(11):78–80Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    ECMA (2004) Near field communication white paper, ECMA/TC32-TG19/2004/1Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Finkenzeller K (2003) RFID handbook, fundamentals and applications in contactless smart cards and identification. Wiley, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fizmaurice G, Ishii H, Buxton W (1995) Bricks: laying the foundations of graspable user interfaces. In: Proceedings of CHI’95Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kindberg T et al (2000) People, places, things: web presence for real world. In: IEEE workshop on mobile computing systems and applications WMCSA’00, IEEE Press, MontereyGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ljungstrand P, Holmqvist L (1999) WebStickers: using physical objects as WWW bookmarks. In: Extended abstracts of CHI’99, ACM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ma H, Paradiso J (2002) The FindIT flashlight: responsive tagging based on optically triggered microprocessor wakeup, in UbiComp, LNCS 2498, Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 160–167Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Norman D (1988) The psychology of everyday things. Basic books, New York, p 257Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Philips semiconductors. Philips Near Field Communication WWW page. Referenced April 1st, 2004
  12. 12.
    Plain-Jones C (1995) Data matrix identification. Sensor Rev 15(1):12–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rekimoto J, Ayatsuka Y (2000) CyberCode: designing augmented reality environments with visual Tags. In: Proceedings on the designing augmented reality environments (DARE 2000), ACM Press, pp 1–10Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Rekimoto J, Ayatsuka Y, Kohno M, Oba H (2003) Proximal interactions: a direct manipulation technique for wireless networking. INTERACT 2003, IOS Press, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sarma S, Brock D, Ashton K (2000) The networked physical world.
  16. 16.
    Siegemund F, Flörkemeier C (2003) Interaction in pervasive computing settings using bluetooth-enabled active tags and passive RFID technology together with mobile phones. In: Proceedings of the first IEEE international conference on pervasive computing and communications, Forth WorthGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Streitz N, Tandler P, Müller-tomfelde C, Konomi S (2001) Roomware: towards the next generation of human-computer interaction based on an integrated design of real and virtual worlds. In: Carroll J (ed) Human-computer interaction in the new millennium. Addison-Wesley, BostonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Strömmer E, Suojanen M (2003) Micropower IR tag—a new technology for ad-hoc interconnections between hand-held terminals and smart objects. In: Smart objects conference sOc’2003, Grenoble, France, May 2003 (
  19. 19.
    Swindells C, Inkpen K, Dill J, Tory M (2002) That one there! pointing to establish device identity. UIST’02 4(2):151–160Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ullmer B, Ishii H, Glas D (1998) Mediablocks: physical containers, transports, and controls for online media. In: Proceedings of SIGGRAPH ‘98, ACM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Want R, Weiser M, Mynatt E (1998) Activating everyday objects. In: Darpa/NIST smart spaces workshop, USC Information Sciences Institute, Marina del ReyGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Want R, Fishkin K, Gujar A, Harrison BL (1999) Bridging physical and virtual worlds with electronic tags. In: Proceedings of 1999 conference on human factors in computing systems, Pittsburgh, pp 370–377Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Weiser M (1991) The computer of the 21st century. Scientific AmericanGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Välkkynen P, Korhonen I, Plomp J, Tuomisto T, Cluitmans L, Ailisto H, Seppä H (2003) A user interaction paradigm for physical browsing and near-object control based on tags. In: Proceedings of physical interaction workshop on real world user interfaces, Udine, IT, pp 31–34Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heikki Ailisto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lauri Pohjanheimo
    • 1
  • Pasi Välkkynen
    • 2
  • Esko Strömmer
    • 1
  • Timo Tuomisto
    • 2
  • Ilkka Korhonen
    • 2
  1. 1.VTT ElectronicsOuluFinland
  2. 2.VTT Information TechnologyTampereFinland

Personalised recommendations