Malte Weiß
HCI Research · Software Development

Madgets: Actuating Widgets on Interactive Tabletops

Full paper by Malte Weiss, Florian Schwarz, Simon Jakubowski, Jan Borchers

In Proceedings of the 23nd annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology. ACM, 2010.

BibTeX citation
author = {Weiss, Malte and Schwarz, Florian and Jakubowski, Simon and Borchers, Jan},
title = {Madgets: Actuating Widgets on Interactive Tabletops},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 23nd annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology},
series = {UIST '10},
year = {2010},
isbn = {978-1-4503-0271-5},
location = {New York, New York, USA},
pages = {293--302},
url = {},
doi = {10.1145/1866029.1866075},
publisher = {ACM},
address = {New York, NY, USA},
keywords = {actuation, multi-touch, tabletop interaction, tangible user interfaces, widgets}


We present a system for the actuation of tangible magnetic widgets (Madgets) on interactive tabletops. Our system combines electromagnetic actuation with fiber optic tracking to move and operate physical controls. The presented mechanism supports actuating complex tangibles that consist of multiple parts. A grid of optical fibers transmits marker positions past our actuation hardware to cameras below the table. We introduce a visual tracking algorithm that is able to detect objects and touches from the strongly sub-sampled video input of that grid. Six sample Madgets illustrate the capabilities of our approach, ranging from tangential movement and height actuation to inductive power transfer. Madgets combine the benefits of passive, untethered, and translucent tangibles with the ability to actuate them with multiple degrees of freedom.


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