Tangible BitsHiroshi Ishii and Tangible Media Group / 1997

Tangible Bits

Tangible Bits is our vision of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) which guides our research in the Tangible Media Group.
People have developed sophisticated skills for sensing and manipulating our physical environments. However, most of these skills are not employed by traditional GUI (Graphical User Interface). Tangible Bits seeks to build upon these skills by giving physical form to digital information, seamlessly coupling the dual worlds of bits and atoms.

Guided by the Tangible Bits vision, we are designing “tangible user interfaces” which employ physical objects, surfaces, and spaces as tangible embodiments of digital information. These include foreground interactions with graspable objects and augmented surfaces, exploiting the human senses of touch and kinesthesia. We are also exploring background information displays which use “ambient media” — ambient light, sound, airflow, and water movement. Here, we seek to communicate digitally-mediated senses of activity and presence at the periphery of human awareness.

The goal is to change the “painted bits” of GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) to “tangible bits,” taking advantage of the richness of multimodal human senses and skills developed through our lifetime of interaction with the physical world.