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Ishii Develops 'hands-On' ­ser Interfaces


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Hiroshi Ishii of MIT Media Labs

MIT / Donna Coveney

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab researcher Hiroshi Ishii is developing tactile user interfaces that are designed to integrate computer use with a person's daily life. Ishii's Tangible Media Group is researching ways that people can interact with computers and other devices by moving and handling physical objects. An example of the group's work is a tabletop system called the Urban Planning Workbench, which allows an architect or city planner to move framework models of planned buildings. The tabletop instantly responds by displaying how the shadows and reflections from those buildings would appear at different times of day and how they would interact with adjacent buildings. The same display also can show how air would flow around the buildings.

Other systems developed by the group focus on manipulating physical objects on a surface to alter musical compositions, chemical formulas, business processes, or electrical circuits. For example, a wooden block could represent different electronic components, and when the blocks are arranged in a way that completes a circuit, project images cause a simulated motor to run or a light bulb to turn on.

"I've never been driven by science or engineering," Ishii says. "I'm driven by art. Technology gets obsolete in a year, and applications get obsolete in 10 years. But vision driven by art survives beyond our lifespan."

From MIT News
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