Imaginary Interfaces is a research project led by Sean Gustafson at the Human Computer Interaction Lab of Prof. Patrick Baudisch at Hasso Plattner Institute.
Screenless mobile devices achieve maximum mobility, but at the expense of the visual feedback that is generally assumed to be necessary for spatial interaction. With Imaginary Interfaces we re-enable spatial interaction on screenless devices. Users point and draw in the empty space in front of them or on the palm of their hands. While they cannot see the results of their interaction, they do obtain some visual feedback by watching their hands move. Our user studies show that Imaginary Interfaces allow users to create simple drawings, to annotate with them and to operate interfaces, as long as their layout mimics a physical device they have used before. We demonstrate how this allows an imaginary interface to serve as a shortcut for a physical device and we believe that ultimately Imaginary Interfaces will lead to the development of standalone ultra-mobile devices.
On going work in Imaginary Interfaces includes the Imaginary Phone (see the separate page here: Imaginary Phone) and the Draw-Your-Own Interfaces demonstration that shows an exploration into the future of home interfaces. By tracing the shape of a button on any surface in your home you can create an imaginary button that will turn on your TV or dim the lights. Since the button exists only in your imagination, residents of a house are able to place a light switch where it is most convenient for each of them. Instead of searching for the TV remote control you can just draw it on the arm of the couch and use that. With a set of depth cameras, the demonstration system senses touch on arbitrary surfaces and recognizes when someone draws a new button. Simply touch the imaginary button where you remember drawing it and the TV turns on.