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Paper: mediaBLOCKs

mediaBLOCKs: Physical Containers, Transports, and Controls for Online Media [pdf]
Brygg Ullmer, Hiroshi Ishii, and Dylas Glas
Tangible Media Group
MIT Media Lab
SIGGRAPH 98

This is an interesting complement/predecessor of DataTiles.

The mediaBLOCKs work comes out of the tangible bits project of Ishii. The authors define mediaBLOCKs as phicons for the "containment, transport, and manipulation of online media." Although the analogies can be made directly with physical storage mechanisms such as audio tapes and floppy disks, the authors feel that mediaBLOCKs and mechanisms of physical reference and exchange rather than storage.

They make this distinction because they feel (i) the interaction is more lightweight that storage containers like floppy disks, and (ii) the indicative nature of the interaction makes it similar to "copy/paste" semantics.

One demonstration of this technology is a presentation creation with data from multiple sources. The mediaBLOCKs are able to rearrange digital video from a camera, whiteboard content, computer slides, and other content on a "media sequencer device." The complete presentation can then be transported to a printer using a mediaBLOCK.

The authors were unable to conceive a good way of displaying the content of the block within the actual form factor of the block, and they preferred the small design of the blocks. Instead, there is a strong reliance on media browsers and other external displays. DataTiles is obviously an interesting take on this problem they have posed.

Implementation: early prototypes used resistor IDs, newer models use iButtons.

Some definitions:

Phicons: physical icons. Tangible, graspable objects for manipulation.

Physical browsers: simple device for browsing and navigating mediaBLOCK content.

Physical gateways: slots on the side of a computer monitor that allow transfer to/from mediaBLOCK.

Physical sequencers: tangible interface for manipulating mediaBLOCKs. Interactions are based on racks, stacks, chutes, and pads.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on May 20, 2003 2:44 PM.

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