Tangible interaction

I'm looking at this from the perspctive of someone who wants to interact with a mobile phone. In a wider sense you could call this tangible interaction but actually it's more about performing gestures with the mobile phone. Gesture interaction is a nice thing to have especially when you are mobile and have to interact with an auditory interface. The WIMP paradigm (Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing device) works fine on the desktop, but not so well when you are actually moving and only have a small screen.

Auditory User Interfaces (I)

Often people ask me: Why do you research auditory interfaces? What are they good for? When I answer I feel a bit like a vegetarian who has to point out the obvious: visual interfaces are awesome (and very tasty - to stay in the metaphor), but there are drawbacks. For example when you want to interact with a visual interface in a situation that requires a lot of visual attention. Driving a car or just walking a busy street are some of these situations. Or let's say you have your mobile phone in your pocket and cannot see you graphical user interface (GUI). For some of these situations auditory user interfaces (AUI) offer an advantage over visual interfaces. Simple as that.


Metaphors are super important for user interfaces as they a) help the developer design the user interface b) help the user understand the system.

A well-known example is the desktop metaphor introduced by Alan Kay at Xerox PARC in 1970. It is used for the computer screen upon which iconic representations of documents, folders, and other objects including disks and printers can be placed. The advantage of this way of representing is that even if the users have no computer knowledge they can still apply their mental model of files and folders to learn how to operate the computer.

Besides understanding metaphors only in terms of their appearance in literature or poetic language, a much wider ontological impact has been ascribed to metaphors by cognitive linguistics in the early 1980s.