Tangible interfaces

"There has been good evidence to support the fact thatthrough touching, manipulating, exploring and testing, children find out and learn about the world around them" - Madhur Khandelwal, Ali Mazalek. (2007)


Interfaces are merely graphical today! A PC is usually operated via a mouse and a keyboard, but these do not operate the PC directly. The mouse controls the PC via a small arrow on your screen. Moving the mouse does not by itself affect the behavior of the computer, it is the (graphic) arrow, its position and function connected with this place that determine the behavior of the computer. This is called a graphical interface.


Ultra portable devices

User Interface Design Must Be Relevant

Devices become more personal, which creates the need for an ultraportable form factor. People expect their phones to be extremely flexible. They want to work in the train, check their emails in the dentist's waiting room, or during a walk in the woods find out what kind of tree they are looking at.


Technology expands involvement

"Sociality is the human tendency to bind oneself with others in interdependent relationships and, thus, to create and join organized forms of acting together." -

Huizing, A. Cavanagh, M. (2009)


Involvement expresses the relationship between people and their digital devices. People are very absorbed by their personal mobile phones, their music players, their smart phones... As devices get smaller, and new technologies ensure that we can use these (wireless) devices anywhere, they are no longer connected to their original places and come closer to the user. A cell phone is an example of a very personal device; you do not call someone's cell phone, but the person directly.


Rich digital environment

"A computer is a wonderful thing, but it is cold, and what comes out of it, is cold too." - Della Femina

We are entering the age of the "Learning Society" – enabled by a rich, digital environment, characterized by advances in social networking. - Summary of NML conference – Brussels 2009


The digital environment in a regular computer is mainly graphical and static. The experiences are often focused on the visual aspect. Other senses are barely addressed. Some applications have integrated sounds and music, but usually those are not necessarily functional or do not give any value. Websites are still very static. Whether you check one today or tomorrow, from your home or at work, a website looks generally the same. Computer games, however, already adapt to the user. Depending on prior experience, personality,... the game environment adjusts automatically. Other digital environments should become progressive and dynamic as well.


Technological context

Networked - Open Innovation - Wireless/portable - Interactive

Out of all changes mentioned, those in the field of technology are the greatest. The knowledge of science increases exponentially and scientists announce the start of a new era: the era of information exchange.

The beginning of the "great leap forward" was definitely made by the arrival of the internet. As, suddenly, people and institutions became directly interconnected and information exchange became just a matter of some digital code, sharing and disseminat of knowledge increased dramatically. Today we see that many more devices than 20 years ago get connected to a network or the internet. Smartphones have become a classic example, but also domotics can be controlled by mobile phone, priests can ring church bells through a text message, and entire movie libraries are accessible through digital TV. The term networking not only implies the internet, but also field-bus networks in companies, local Ethernet networks, GPS...

Afbeelding 048

Social learning

Learning is not only individualized, it is more social. We learn throughout our lifetime, we learn from each other and from the internet and other media. The school has become a social meeting place, and the infrastructure needs to reflect that. There must be places at school to accommodate group work. Sometimes in an entire class group during a class discussion, for which an open classroom with chairs is needed. Sometimes in groups of 4 for a history assignment, for which you need a working space for 4 people, with internet connection, power outlet for your PC, space to take notes…

Social learning