SKIRIM: Self-directed kinetic interaction with rich interactive materials

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Susanne Boll, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (Homepage)
Prof. Dr. Jan Oliver Borchers, RWTH Aachen (Homepage)
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Steimle, Saarland University (Homepage)

Before the advent of smart homes, the toaster was the only thing that suddenly moved on its own. Today, blinds and dishwasher doors open by themselves. These are technically based and are rather unusual in the private home environment. SKIRIM explores how soft, shape-shifting materials can create effective but unobtrusive user interfaces (UIs) that fit naturally into everyday life. SKIRIM is taking the next step in merging the digital and physical in the private home and is moving from passive, interactive everyday interfaces to soft, independently shape-changing user interfaces that dynamically change their physical form. Although shape-changing materials are generally available today, interaction techniques, models of their effect on people, design tools, manufacturing processes and UI design guidelines are missing, especially for soft, shape-changing SKIRIM UIs, in the home environment. We investigate in which smart home scenarios such user interfaces make sense, develop predictive models for the effect of movement parameters on users, such as the speed of shape change, research new digital manufacturing approaches and develop and evaluate tools for experts and end users to design and configure SKIRIM -UIs. We combine basic research methods with research through design and user-centered approaches. Our work packages combine the competencies of the three institutions: each has a similar methodological approach in which all institutions are involved. However, this focuses on the increasingly complex challenges of SKIRIM UIs: from individual building blocks to the combination of user interfaces and their combination with everyday materials. In this path, the focus shifts from designers to end users and from laboratory to practical studies. SKIRIM contributes to the SPP in the following ways: The user interfaces promise good integration into the home environment; By changing shape, they can be scaled for different users, tasks and environments outside the home; they enable more natural inputs and the research on SKIRIM is timely as it addresses the major challenge of transforming soft shape change from a material property into a scalable interaction paradigm. The PIs of this proposal have a strong background in HCI with over 20000 citations and are currently co-PIs in RIME. Their competencies complement each other ideally: PI Steimle focuses on materials and manufacturing, PI Borchers on interaction techniques, design tools and prototypical empirical studies and PI Boll on smart home environments, multimodal interface design, user-centered design and acceptance studies.