"I don't understand it either, but it is cool" - visitor interactions with a multi-touch table in a museum

Eva Hornecker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

138 Citations (Scopus)


Most tabletop research presents findings from lab-based user studies, focusing on specific interaction techniques. This means we still know little about how these new interfaces perform in real life settings and how users appropriate them. This paper presents findings from a field study of an existing interactive table in a museum of natural history. Visitors were found to employ a wide variety of gestures for interacting; different interface elements invited different types of gesture. The analysis highlights challenges and design conflicts in the design of tabletop interfaces for public settings, such as latency times and side-effects of ‘frame-less’ content, which had some users struggling to learn how to interact. While the majority of visitors engaged at least briefly with the table, which enabled browsing question-answer text about animal species, talk amongst visitors dealt mainly with how to interact and evoked few comments, indicating shallow engagement with content.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of TABLETOP 2008
Subtitle of host publication3rd IEEE international workshop on horizontal interactive human computer systems
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781424428977
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • visitor interactions
  • multi-touch table
  • museum
  • cool
  • understanding

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