A transformable physical user interface

tANGibLE is a conceptual tangible user interface that is based on composition and decomposition. It consists of two parts that can be stuck together in different ways. The resulting appearances or shapes act as signs and are linked to different functionalities. Besides manipulating digital information, the user interfaces also convey information through visual and tactile feedback by applying vibrations. We prototypically applied the concept to a virtual home automation system to control the home heating, the bathtub, and the alarm clock.


The box-shaped user interfaces allow a lot of shape variations that are fixed by magnets. Depending on the composition, tANGibLE changes its affordance and provides different clues as to the interaction. The shapes that are linked to the system could be individually configured and arranged according to an easy-to-remember set of interactions that intentionally avoids displays and searching in menus. tANGibLE could be especially useful for people with physical or visual limitations, but this was not investigated.