Tangible user interfaces: past, present and future directions

O. Shaer, E. Hornecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

387 Citations (Scopus)
306 Downloads (Pure)


In the last two decades, Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) have emerged as a new interface type that interlinks the digital and physical worlds. Drawing upon users' knowledge and skills of interaction with the real non-digital world, TUIs show a potential to enhance the way in which people interact with and leverage digital information. However, TUI research is still in its infancy and extensive research is required in or- der to fully understand the implications of tangible user interfaces, to develop technologies that further bridge the digital and the physical, and to guide TUI design with empirical knowledge. This paper examines the existing body of work on Tangible User In- terfaces. We start by sketching the history of tangible user interfaces, examining the intellectual origins of this field. We then present TUIs in a broader context, survey application domains, and review frame- works and taxonomies. We also discuss conceptual foundations of TUIs including perspectives from cognitive sciences, phycology, and philoso- phy. Methods and technologies for designing, building, and evaluating TUIs are also addressed. Finally, we discuss the strengths and limita- tions of TUIs and chart directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-137
Number of pages137
JournalFoundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010


  • user interfaces
  • tangible interaction
  • tangible user interfaces


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