Tables are part of our everyday lives. We use their surfaces at home, at work, to play, to eat, and for collaboration. Since a few decades, researchers envision and design interactive tabletops with computers and displays integrated into the furniture. This is a prominent way of making computers invisible and to instantiate the user interface as a physical interface: an interactive horizontal surface. Tabletop research, technologies, prototypes, and products are tightly coupled and in this article we synthesize historical information and map our findings onto a so-called hype cycle, usually representing the maturity and the visibility of specific technologies. We characterize the evolution in this domain, pointing out and tracing innovations as they stimulated and triggered key transitions in research and technology. This enables us to extrapolate the future of interactive tabletops.
About the authors
Dr.-Ing. Christian Müller-Tomfelde is active in the research areas of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Ubiquitous Computing, and Auditory Displays. After finishing his studies in electrical engineering at the University of Darmstadt and Hamburg-Harburg, he worked as a scientist at the Center for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe and then, since 1997 as a researcher at GMD-IPSI‘s division AMBIENTE „Workspaces of the Future“ in Darmstadt (aka Fraunhofer- IPSI). He was involved in the i-LAND project and in the design of the roomware components that are integrating Information technologies in the office tables, chairs and walls. In his dissertation he explored new forms of audio feedback for the collaborative interaction in hybrid, next generation work environments. From 2003 he worked at as Post doctoral fellow Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia and afterward as research scientist at CSIRO. There he led amongst others, Australian research projects in the domains of distributed collaboration and of interactions with large highresolution displays. In April 2010 he published an edited book at the Springer Verlag about Tabletops – Horizontal Interactive Displays. The book is a first attempt to bring together research in the domain of Tabletops and integrates and summarises findings from the most important tabletop research teams. Until recently, he was a research scientist and project leader at the ICT-Centre of the CSIRO in Sydney, Australia.
Professor Morten Fjeld is a teacher and researcher in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. At Chalmers he has set up the t2i interaction lab (www.t2i.se), exploring how emerging interactive technologies such as tangibles and tabletops can benefit problem solving and collaboration. Currently, the t2i lab focuses on various forms of innovative input and output solutions. The lab’s research efforts take place in projects within mobile computing (“Dynamic Duo”), medical visualization (collaboration with SECTRA AB), interactive analytics with big data (Marie Curie actions project DIVA, REA grant 290227), and motion capture (partnering with Qualisys AB). Previously, Morten studied applied mathematics at NTNU, Norway and ENSIMAG, France. He has extensive industrial experience in user interface and real-time system design. In 2001, he graduated with a PhD from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, teaching afterwards at several Swiss and Norwegian universities, before joining the faculty of Chalmers in 2004. Morten also collaborates actively with HCI researchers at ETH Zurich (ICVR) and at NUS Singapore, where in 2011 he was a visiting professor at the NUS HCI lab. Besides his focus on tangibles and tabletops, Morten is also interested in interactive enabling technologies, visualization, and user collaboration.
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