Making Tabletops Useful with Applications, Frameworks and Multi-Tasking

TitleMaking Tabletops Useful with Applications, Frameworks and Multi-Tasking
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsJulià, CF
Number of Pages210
Date Published01/2015
UniversityUniversitat Pompeu Fabra
Thesis Typephd
KeywordsApplications, Collaboration, Frameworks, HCI, interaction, Multi-Tasking, Shared interfaces, tabletop

The progressive appearance of affordable tabletop technology and devices urges human-computer interaction researchers to provide the necessary methods to make this kind of devices the most useful to their users. Studies show that tabletops have distinctive characteristics that can be specially useful to solve some types of problems, but this potential is arguably not yet translated into real-world applications. We theorize that the important components that can transform those systems into useful tools are application frameworks that take into account the devices affordances, a third party application ecosystem, and multi-application systems supporting concurrent multitasking. In this dissertation we approach these key components: First, we explore the distinctive affordances of tabletops, with two cases: TurTan, a tangible programming language in the education context, and SongExplorer, a music collection browser for large databases. Next, in order to address the difficulty of building such applications in a way that they can exploit these affordances, we focus on software frameworks to support the tabletop application making process, with two different approaches: ofxTableGestures, targeting programmers, and MTCF, designed for music and sound artists. Finally, recognizing that making useful applications is just one part of the problem, we focus on a fundamental issue of multi-application tabletop systems: the difficulty to support multi-user concurrent multitasking with third-party applications. After analyzing the possible approaches, we present GestureAgents, a content-based distributed application-centric disambiguation mechanism and its implementation, which solves this problem in a generic fashion, being also useful to other shareable interfaces, including uncoupled ones.