Creating Metaphors for Tangible User Interfaces in Collaborative Urban Planning: Questions for Designers and Developers

  • Valérie MaquilEmail author
  • Olivier Zephir
  • Eric Ras
Conference paper


Designing tangible user interfaces (TUIs) means to deal with a complex number of issues related to the particular mixture of the physical and digital space. While a number of existing guidelines and frameworks propose issues and themes that are relevant during design, we still miss a more specific guidance on how to address such issues. This chapter analyses the difficulty of designing and developing TUIs by considering the principle of metaphors. Based on an analysis of the different types of targets of metaphors in TUIs, we identify the complexities of TUI adoption by users across physical, digital, and application domains. We propose a series of questions that support designers and developers in dealing with these complexities in the context of a TUI for collaborative planning and discussion of urban concepts. Our work is based on and illustrated through various insights collected during the development of the “ColorTable”, a complex TUI for collaborative urban planning.


Tangible user interfaces Interaction design Metaphor Design processes Urban planning 



The majority of the research underlying this chapter was conducted by the first author as Ph.D work within Vienna University of Technology. It was partially funded by the European Union Integrated Project IPCity under contract no. FP6-2004-IST-4-27571. We would like to thank all researchers who contributed to the work of this chapter, in particular the team of Vienna UT: Lisa Ehrenstrasser, Stephan Gamohn, Michal Idziorek, Ina Wagner, and Mira Wagner.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Research Centre Henri TudorLuxembourgLuxembourg

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