We are creating a Tangible User Interface (TUI) designed to interactively query a database.  While much work has been done on TUI, showing that they encourage collaboration and positively enhance user experience, few tangible systems have been designed specifically for data analysis tasks.  Our system combines a tabletop (non-digital) graspable user interface with a two-dimensional screen display; the user interrogates the data by placing tokens on or off the tabletop and the screen displays the results of the user’s query.  The objects are tagged using fiducial markers, which are identified with open-source ReacTIVision computer vision software, and the visualization code is written in Processing.  We use radio station listenership demographic data for our current prototype, but the system can be used to query any type of database.

Below is a schematic of our tangible data query system.  Users create queries by placing objects onto a table, which has a camera placed discretely below it; the results of the query are displayed onto an overhead screen placed at one end of the table.  A video of the interaction can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfTvTsqG5ZI



Jofre, A., Szigeti, S., Tiefenbach-Keller, S., Dong, L.-X., Diamond, S. “Manipulating Tabletop Objects to Interactively Query a Database” (2016) CHI’16 Extended Abstracts (Chi 2016 San Jose May 7-12) 

Jofre, A., Szigeti, S., Diamond, S. "Citizen engagement through tangible data representation" Foro de Educación (January-June 2016) vol. 14, n. 20 

Jofre, A. Szigeti, S., Tiefenbach-Keller, S., Dong, L.-X., Tomé, F., Czarnowski, D., Diamond, S. (2015) "A Tangible User Interface for Interactive Data Visualization" Proceedings of the 2015 Conference of the Center for Advanced Studies on Collaborative Research. IBM Corp., CASCON2015, November 2-4, 2015, Toronto, Ontario.

Szigeti, S., Stevens, A., Tu, R., Jofre, A., Gebhardt, A., Chevalier, F., Lee, J. & Diamond, S. (2014) Output to Input: Concepts for Physical Data Representations and Tactile User Interfaces. Proceedings of CHI14 Works‐in‐Progress (Toronto, ON).

Tangible user interface
Diagram showing 3 people using the table-based tangible user interaface
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Ana Jofre
Dr. Steve Szigeti
Dr. Sara Diamond
Frederico Tomé
Dr. Fanny Chevalier
Embed Video: 


Topicks is a means to visualize topic modeling outputs. The interactive visualization of topic models is a promising approach to summarizing large sets of textual data. Incorporating a radial layout, users can view the relationships between topics, terms and the corpus as a whole. Interacting with topic and term nodes, as well as a related bar chart, provides the user with various ways to manipulate the visualization and explore the data.

Screenshot of data visualization from TopPicks
Poster from TopPicks
Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 3:45pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Sara Diamond
Dr. Ana Jofre
Jessica Peter