Tangible Instant Messaging

Brief description

Instant Messaging is a popular means of communication on the internet. Programs like MSN Messenger and ICQ are widely used to exchange text messages within a community of ‘buddies’.

The interaction with these programs is through a Graphical User Interface (GUI) augmented with simple sounds to indicate incoming messages. The two main areas of interaction are the dialog window, in which the exchange of messages takes place, and the status window. The status window informs the user about several things. It indicates the status of others, e.g., which of his buddies is online, who is sending a message, if buddies are available or busy, etc. The user can also set his own status through this window, e.g., away, occupied, busy, ‘be right back’. Through pull-down menus in this window you can also contact buddies and send them messages or emails.

As a reaction to the dominance of GUI’s in human computer interaction (HCI) alternative interaction styles are explored. One of these alternatives is tangible interaction which stresses the importance of the physicality of the interaction. In this approach the physical controls for (digital) input are integrated with the physical representation of (digital) output.

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