Embodied Metaphors in Tangible Interaction Design

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Journal Article
Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 2012, 16 pp. 433 - 449
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For centuries, learning and development has been supported by physical activity and manipulating physical objects. With the introduction of embedded technologies, opportunities for employing tangible or embodied interaction for learning and development have emerged. As a result of previous research, we have seen that interaction models based on embodied knowledge (through embodied metaphors) can support children's learning in abstract domains. Although metaphorical mappings are promoted in tangible and embodied interaction research, little is known about how to identify embodied metaphors, or how to implement them effectively into interaction models. In this paper, we introduce a people centered, iterative approach to the design of tangible learning systems with embodied metaphor-based mappings. As a design case, we imple- mented our approach to the design of Moving Sounds (MoSo) Tangibles; a tangible system for learning abstract sound concepts. The system consists of a set of interactive tangibles with which children can manipulate pitch, volume, and tempo of ongoing tones. In a user study with 39 participants, we found that all children were able to reproduce sound samples with MoSo Tangibles.
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