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Comparing tangible and multi-touch interfaces for a spatial problem solving task

Date created: 
Tangible user interface
Multi-touch interface
Complementary action
Jigsaw puzzle
Problem solving strategy
Digital tabletop

This thesis presents the results of an exploratory study of a tangible and a multi-touch interface. The study investigates the effect of interface style on users’ performance, problem solving strategies and preference for a spatial problem solving task. Participants solved a jigsaw puzzle using each interface on a digital tabletop. The effect of interface style was explored through efficiency measures; a comparative analysis of hands-on actions based on a video coding schema for complementary actions; participants’ responses to questionnaires; and observational notes. Main findings are that tangible interaction better enabled complementary actions and was more efficient. Its 3D tactile interaction facilitated more effective search, bi-manual handling and visual comparison of puzzle pieces. For spatial problem solving activities where an effective and efficient strategy is not important, a multi-touch approach is sufficient. The thesis uniquely contributes to understanding the hands-on computational design space through its theoretical framing and empirical findings.

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Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
Alissa Antle
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.