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Pens and Other Tangibles

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Using pens and other tangible devices to interact with a computer via the display adds a level of physicality to the interaction and affords more direct interaction with the virtual data than keyboard and mouse. In this talk I will cover the components that are required to support such tangible interaction. This includes: fabrication of the tangibles and collection of the interaction points, interaction design, recognition of the digital ink or other input and finally tools that leverage this type of interaction. These tools include diagram sketching tools that can understand and convert diagrams to other format, annotation tools for inking over existing documents and our most recent work on tangible drawing tools. We have developed a drawing system that combines tangible drawing tools, such as a ruler, compass, protractor and set square with two display technologies: capacitive displays and an interactive tabletop. The system allows users to construct geometric drawings by manipulating familiar physical objects and drawing with a finger or stylus.

Dr Beryl Plimmer is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The main focus of her research is tangible interaction, with particular interest in intelligent support for sketching diagrams. This work ranges from investigating the effect of working with different visual fidelities, to developing better recognition engines and designing compelling user experiences. She has also integrated some of these ideas into a multimodal system for teaching handwriting to the visually impaired and multi-touch interfaces for 3D modelling. More information on her research can be found at

This talk is part of the Human Computer Interaction seminars series.

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