Dourish, P. (2004) Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Chapter 2. Getting in Touch. pp 25-53.

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The second chapter is about tangible computing. Dourish starts from the history (ones again the PARC plays a key role) and then gives some examples of recent research activities in the area.

Interestingly Dourish connects both ubquitous computing and virtual reality to tangible interaction/computing. From the book’s perspective ubiquitous computing and virtual reality are almost two extremes. In virtual reality applications the interaction happens in computer generated world while ubi comp “moves the computer into the real world”.

In addition to ubi comp and virtual reality also arts and design are given a special attention. Dourish claims that design explorations take the next step of ubi comp work by focusing on how computation should be presented in physical world (ubi comp pioneers saw that computation needs to move into the environments of its users).

In the end, Dourish summarizes three main features of tangible computing: 1) there is no single point of control or interaction (there is not even a single device that is the object of interaction), 2) sequential ordering does not hold (interaction in the physical world is parallel), and 3) physical properties of the interface can and should be used to suggest its use (this in a way is a solution to problems that arise from 1 and 2).

“…the essence of tangible computing lies in the way in which it allows computation to be manifested for us in the everyday world…”

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