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Touching the dematerialized

Abstract

Smart phones and tablet computers have flooded the world. With their seemingly intuitive multi-touch interface, they seem to be a step towards embodied interaction. But are they really? In this paper we take off with an analysis of these products and our interaction with them from the perspective of dematerialization. We claim that the multi-touch display is the outcome of a dematerialization process. As it is applied today, it fails to fulfil the promise of embodied interaction, since it results in an impoverished, standardized and computer-like interaction. Next, we introduce our own design perspective, the third stand, which aims to consciously guide dematerialization instead of blindly applying it. We believe this perspective leads to a fresh way of thinking about the multi-touch display. By presenting the design of a novel alarm clock, we emphasize the single-purpose character of the third stand and reveal its own specific nature. Next, in two design projects, we confront the third stand with the multi-touch display and enhance the latter with specific, meaningful and rich actions. We discuss the results of these two design projects and end this paper by reflecting on the third stand.

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Correspondence to Lukas Desmond Elias Van Campenhout.

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Van Campenhout, L.D.E., Frens, J., Hummels, C. et al. Touching the dematerialized. Pers Ubiquit Comput 20, 147–164 (2016) doi:10.1007/s00779-016-0907-y

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Keywords

  • Dematerialization
  • Industrial design
  • Rich interaction
  • Embodied interaction