I mentioned in a previous post that a feature of Interaction ’09 was the Tangible Interaction Café. Manifest Digital provided a Microsoft Surface for us to fiddle around with. This was my first hands-on experience with the table, and while it was interesting, I was a little underwhelmed. It wasn’t as big as I imagined it would be; it’s the size of a smallish coffee table. The resolution is also quite low. The interactions were very natural, however, and it was fun to spend a few minutes flicking photos around and playing with the water table “screensaver”.
One thing that made it a bit more engaging was that Manifest had developed some software expressly for our conference. They had it pulling in photos and tweets from the conference feeds, which was a nice tie in, but the icing on the cake was the interface with Crowdvine, the social networking site tied into the conference. Everyone who had registered with Crowdvine had a 3-D barcode on the back of their nametag. When I placed my nametag on the Surface, it recognized me and pulled in my photo from Crowdvine.
The red “connect” swash could be dragged onto another person’s photo, which would send them a message through Crowdvine saying that I connected with them on the Surface at Interaction ’09. While this is a rather trivial example, it turned what could have been a short, distraction with a novelty item into a more relevant and engaging experience.