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TUIMS: Laying the Foundations for a Tangible User Interface Management System
Authors: Shaer, Orit; Jacob, Robert J.K.
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The development of Tangible User Interfaces entails a unique set of challenges in comparison to traditional GUI development. These challenges range from conceptual through methodological to technical. To address these challenges, this paper proposes a new class of software tools for TUIs: the Tangible User Interface Management System (TUIMS). TUIMS draws from earlier work on UIMS [8] and provides an alternative paradigm for developing TUIs. Rather than developing a TUI using an API for a specific sensing mechanism, TUI developers would specify a TUI in a specialized high level description language which is technologically independent. This technology independent specification can then be translated into a program controlling a set of physical objects in a specific target technology. To demonstrate the benefits of a TUIMS, we are currently developing Prism. Prism is a TUIMS aimed at: reducing the effort required to build a TUI, encouraging exploration of alternative designs, and lowering the threshold for retargeting a TUI to new input/output technologies. The Prism system will support development of TUIs based on microcontrollers and RFID readers. Prior to developing a TUIMS, it was necessary to identify the set of high level constructs that would serve as a basis for a high level description language for TUIs, in the same way that widget, windows and events formed the basic ingredients of GUI toolkits. Therefore, we proposed the TAC Paradigm [10], a conceptual framework for TUIs providing a set of core constructs for describing TUIs while addressing many of the conceptual challenges unique to the rich design space of TUIs. By providing a simple set of constructs, the TAC paradigm enables construction of a high level description language for TUIs, thus laying the foundations for the development of a TUIMS.

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