Special issue of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing:

Tangible interfaces in perspective

Co-edited by Lars Erik Holmquist (leh@viktoria.se), Albrecht Schmidt (albrecht@comp.lancs.ac.uk),
and Brygg Ullmer (ullmer@zib.de)

[ 2003-08-20: We have added a new category of submissions: Design Sketches ]

Physical interfaces to digital information have been the subject of much research in the
last decade. Many novel approaches have been introduced during this time, considered
under names such as graspable interfaces, tangible interfaces, physical interfaces, and
embodied interaction. By moving interaction from the virtuality of the screen into the
physicality of the real world, the design space is significantly extended, enabling new
and richer forms of interaction. However, at present
we are likely only at the beginning
of understanding the implications of establishing a direct physical link between digital
information and human users. With this special issue, we would like to place this body of
work in perspective, while simultaneously presenting some of the area's most recent findings.

Although many compelling examples have been produced illustrating the use of tangible
interfaces across different domains, these are usually seen in isolation rather than as part
of a larger whole. To move forward, we would like to see a deepening of the discussion and
a more thorough analysis of the field. Among other possibilities, this may be approached
through accounts of user studies or real-world deployment of tangible user interfaces; or
through the development of new theories and frameworks for the new styles of interaction
and applications that can be realized.

For this special issue, we hope to attract submissions both of a reflective nature, which
look at the accumulated work in the area with the benefit of hindsight; and submissions
that document the new and exciting developments that are currently unfolding.
In particular, we seek three types of submissions:

Perspective papers should use the accumulated work of a specific group, institution, or
individual as the basis for a discussion that can encompass historical accounts, lessons
learned, or overall theories and generalizations. The content can be based on previously
published material, but should expand upon it in such a way that new insights are gained.

Research papers should present new systems, evaluations, methods or concepts in the field
of physical user interfaces. This should consist of novel work that has not previously been
published in archival format.

Design sketches give the opportunity to present new and ongoing work in a visual format.
They should concentrate on illustrations (5-10 images) with short explanatory texts, to
communicate the essence of an innovative system or interface. A self-contained abstract --
not longer than one A4 page -- should also be included. We particularly encourage design-
and art-oriented submissions, as well as innovative work that may not yet be sufficiently
mature for a full paper submisson.

We are also open to other types of submissions, including those that debate or challenge
controversial issues in the area.

Submission format and schedule

Further information regarding formatting, content, and submission procedures is available at:
<http://www.personal-ubicomp.com/submit.html>. The deadline for receiving submissions is
November 1, 2003. All contributions will be peer reviewed to the journal's usual standard.
In addition to the print journal, papers will be published electronically via both the ACM
and Springer digital libraries.

We encourage potential authors to contact the editors well before the final deadline.
Draft submissions are welcome if authors seek early feedback. For further information
or to discuss a possible contribution, please contact the special issue editors, Lars Erik
Holmquist, Albrecht Schmidt, and Brygg Ullmer.


  • November 1, 2003: Paper submission deadline

  • February 1, 2004: Notification for authors

  • March 1, 2004: Revised versions due

Further reading

The following papers are recommended as a starting point:

Ullmer, B., and Ishii, H. (2001). Emerging Frameworks for Tangible User Interfaces.
In Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium , John M. Carroll, ed., pp. 579-601.

Available from: http://web.media.mit.edu/~ullmer/papers/tui-millenium-chapter.pdf

Schmidt, A., and Van Laerhoven, K. (2001). How to Build Smart Appliances?
IEEE Personal Communications 8(4), August 2001. pp. 66-71.

Available from: http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/~albrecht/pubs/

Holmquist, L., Redström, J., and Ljungstrand, P. (1999). Token-Based Access to Digital Information.
In Proceedings of Handheld and Ubiquitous Computing (HUC) 1999, pp. 234-245.

Available from: http://www.viktoria.se/fal/publications/play/1999/token.pdf