Tangible products : redressing the balance between appearance and action

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    Over the past decade, our group has approached interaction design from an industrial design point of view. In doing so, we focus on a branch of design called formgiving1. Traditionally, formgiving has been concerned with such aspects of objects as form, colour, texture and material. In the context of interaction design, we have come to see formgiving as the way in which objects appeal to our senses and motor skills. In this paper, we first describe our approach to interaction design of electronic products. We start with how we have been first inspired and then disappointed by the Gibsonian perception movement [1], how we have come to see both appearance and actions as carriers of meaning, and how we see usability and aesthetics as inextricably linked. We then show a number of interaction concepts for consumer electronics with both our initial thinking and what we learnt from them. Finally, we discuss the relevance of all this for tangible interaction. We argue that, in addition to a data-centred view, it is also possible to take a perceptual-motor-centred view on tangible interaction. In this view, it is the rich opportunities for differentiation in appearance and action possibilities that make physical objects open up new avenues to meaning and aesthetics in interaction design.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)294-309
    JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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