Malte Weiß
HCI Research · Software Development

Rendering Physical Effects in Tabletop Controls

Short paper by Malte Weiss, Christian Remy, Jan Borchers

In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 2011.

BibTeX citation
author = {Weiss, Malte and Remy, Christian and Borchers, Jan},
title = {Rendering Physical Effects in Tabletop Controls},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems},
series = {CHI '11},
year = {2011},
isbn = {978-1-4503-0228-9},
location = {Vancouver, BC, Canada},
pages = {3009--3012},
url = {},
doi = {10.1145/1978942.1979388},
publisher = {ACM},
address = {New York, NY, USA},
keywords = {actuation, haptics, interactive tabletops, physical properties, tangible user interfaces}


We introduce dynamic physical properties as an additional degree of freedom for passive tabletop controls. Using electromagnetic actuation, we manipulate attributes of tangibles on the fly, such as perceived weight, spring resistance, friction, and latching. We describe our actuation concepts, prototypes, and measurements showing that magnetic fields can change physical effects in a linear way. Controlled experiments reveal that participants can tactually distinguish four rendered resistance levels of a button prototype and easily detect dynamic detents in a continuous slider. Finally, we describe how adjustable physical properties in tangibles can enhance tabletop interaction.


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