Today Lucia Terrenghi completed her PhD at the University of Munich. The topic of her dissertation is “Designing Hybrid Interactions through an Understanding of the Affordances of Physical and Digital Technologies”. She presented interesting insights from prototyping new interaction tools the combine the digital and the physical.
One finding in a case study was that it seems really hard to get people into using both hands for interaction (bi-manual interaction) when digital objects are involved, even though there are physical/tangible artefacts to manipulate. I made a similar observation when recently working with small children who were writing the first time a short text on a computer keyboard. For most of them it was difficult at first to write capital letters – basically using bi-manual interaction with the shift-key and a letter. However in this case they typically learned this extremely quickly and after the first session it was internalized how to do it. I wonder if we should with tangible and bi-manual interaction more look into learning effects and efficiency gain after some time of use, rather than just focus on the instant ability of people to use it.