Rock Paper Fibers

Figure 1: (a) Functionally, rock-paper-fibers is a touchpad. However, each sensor element is extended using an optical fiber, making the touchpad deformable. (b) In order to make the audio player “play”, the user reshapes the device into a play symbol and (c) strokes his finger across the play symbol. This causes the device to recognize its new shape and execute the play command.

As the surfaces of touchpads and touch screens are feature-less, they offer little affordance. To alleviate this, researchers have proposed overlaying touch controls with custom shapes, such as DataTiles. Unfortunately, tiles require space, limiting this approach to tabletop-size devices. In this paper, we explore how to bring custom-shaped physical controls to mobile touch devices. To achieve the required smallness we eliminate tiles—instead users re-shape the device itself. For efficiency, users interact bi-manually: one hand reshapes the device; the other hand operates the resulting widget. We present a prototype that achieves deformability using a bundle of optical fibers, demonstrate an audio player and a simple video game each featuring multiple widgets and demonstrate how to support applications that require re-sponsiveness by adding mechanical wedges and clamps. 

Figure 2: …continuing the audio player scenario from Figure 1, (a-d) the user adjusts audio volume, (e-f) invokes a menu, (g) jumps several tracks ahead, and (h-i) pauses the player.

Figure 3: (a) Our prototype consists of a bundle of optical fibers touch enabled by pointing a web cam at the opposite end. (b) Mobile version with wireless camera. (c) Adding illumination.


CHI 2012 Talk


Rudeck, F. and Baudisch, P. Rock-Paper-Fibers: Bringing Physical Affordance to Mobile Touch Devices. In Proceedings of CHI 2012, pp. 1929-1932.
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