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Ideum Explores the Next Generation of Tangible Object Recognition Experiences

New Smart Tangibles Provide More Ways to Combine Physical and Digital Interfaces
Authored by
Nick Schrandt
HCI Programmer

Ideum has been a leader in developing new tangible user interfaces that allow users to combine physical and digital exploration on our multitouch tables. With our new Smart Tangible prototypes, we’ve taken another step by creating tangible objects with embedded electronics and added features that expand opportunities for investigation and engagement.

These next-generation tangibles are equipped with an integrated Arduino which supports an accelerometer for retrieving rotational data and an embedded LED ring for dynamic illumination. Together, these additions provide new levels of functionality for tangible object applications.

For example, when lifted off the table, a Smart Tangible can act as a controller that rotates an onscreen 3D model in real time. This is made possible by linking the pattern recognition technology of Tangible Engine 2.0 with the Arduino, which communicates wirelessly with Ideum touch displays. This allows the Tangible Engine Service to match the object to its physical location and create a two-way stream of information.

This new tangible architecture leads to other possibilities as well, including linked microphones and speakers, proximity and light sensors, and even small LED screens. This dramatic increase in flexibility allows for the creation of highly-customized tangibles that can play any number of innovative roles in tangible-based applications. In addition, Smart Tangibles will include an inductive module for wireless charging.

When combined with the recent release of Tangible Engine 2.0, Ideum’s Smart Tangibles open up countless new creative possibilities for interactive experiences.