Massive meSch presence at TEI2014
meSch had a massive presence at the 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, short TEI. Team members and associated researchers from Sheffield Hallam, University of Strathclyde, University of Stuttgart, University Carlos III Madrid and the Fondazione Bruno Kessler attended TEI 2014.
Physical interaction with computing technology
TEI attracts a mix of researchers and practitioners across the range of technology, human computer interaction (HCI), product and interaction design, the interactive arts and increasingly also the maker movement and rapid prototyping scene. The conference focuses on physical interaction with computing technology, which is exactly the kinds of technologies that are relevant for meSch – and the kind of interaction with cultural heritage that meSch aims to support. A unique feature of TEI is its scope of activities and venues, from talks, interactive exhibits, demos, hands-on studios and posters to art installations and performances.
The studios are a central part of TEI. These are hands-on workshops for learning new methods and novel technologies. Two studios were run by meSch members: from Madrid hosted the Prototyping Device Ecologies studio and Stuttgart and Sheffield Hallam the Tools and Methods for Creating Interactive Artifacts studio. The latter introduced the meSch Blidgets platform to a new audience.
Other studios experimented with combining cardboard modeling with Arduino controls, with many participants acquiring new handcraft skills, with robotics, with printed electronics and circuit boards, and with squeezable soft objects filled with conductive padding that can recognize how they are being manipulated. Studios are great fun, a welcome opportunity for busy researchers to pick up new skills and technologies within a short timeframe from their peers, and also make it easy to get to know new people. The project team also presented a full paper about ‘ Prototyping Tangibles: Exploring Form and Interaction’ as well as 5 work in progress posters.
RFID-equipped fingernails and more
The single-track program was flanked by two keynotes, and during coffee breaks and a 4-hour demo afternoon, participants could engage hands-on with a large number of arts installation and demos. Talks ranging from augmented skateboards that record their trajectory to support skateboarders, RFID-equipped fingernails, embodied cognition design, an experimental deployment of a shape-changing bench in public space, the utility of ‘embodied allegories’ for interface design, haptic guidance on touchscreens, shape, weight and volume changing displays, etc. provided plenty to think and talk about. All the while we were treated to lots of Bavarian hospitality, including a conference dinner in a beer brewery cellar and a traditional Bavarian ‘Weißwurstfrühstück’ (white sausage with sweet mustard and Brezel for breakfast) in the first coffee break of the last conference day.
Interactive performative presentations
Interactive and performative presentations during talks seemed to be one of the minor trends during the talk sessions – not only did we see a skateboard jump, but also a live-demo of a system where the user controls an operatic voice with arm movements via motion-tracking. A noticeable theme across demos and talks were shape-changing interfaces and materials, from explorations of basic mechanisms (e.g. changing the size of a ball via a fluid pump) to complex artefacts such as a shape-changing bench which was deployed and evaluated in several public setting contexts.
TEI’15 will be held at Stanford University in California, in January 2015. It is to be hoped that meSch will be as prominent again, or even have more presentations.