Changing the Appearance of Physical Interfaces Through Controlled Transparency

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  • David Lindlbauer, TU Berlin, Technical University of Berlin
  • ,
  • Jörg Müller
  • ,
  • Marc Alexa, TU Berlin, Technical University of Berlin

We present physical interfaces that change their appearance through controlled transparency. These transparency-controlled physical interfaces are well suited for applications where communication through optical appearance is sufficient, such as ambient display scenarios. They transition between perceived shapes within milliseconds, require no mechanically moving parts and consume little energy. We build 3D physical interfaces with individually controllable parts by laser cutting and folding a single sheet of transparency-controlled material. Electrical connections are engraved in the surface, eliminating the need for wiring individual parts. We consider our work as complementary to current shape-changing interfaces. While our proposed interfaces do not exhibit dynamic tangible qualities, they have unique benefits such as the ability to create apparent holes or nesting of objects. We explore the benefits of transparency-controlled physical interfaces by characterizing their design space and showcase four physical prototypes: two activity indicators, a playful avatar, and a lamp shade with dynamic appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUIST 2016 - Proceedings of the 29th Annual Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
Number of pages11
Place of publicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication year2016
ISBN (Electronic)978-145034531-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event29th Annual Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 16 Oct 201619 Oct 2016


Conference29th Annual Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST)

    Research areas

  • dynamic appearance, transparency control

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