Bricks, Blocks, Boxes, Cubes, and Dice: On the Role of Cubic Shapes for the Design of Tangible Interactive Devices

This work was a team effort of the wonderful Miteinander research group of which I was principal investigator from 2014 to 2019 at TU Chemnitz. And yes, there are many more cubic shaped tangibles than the paper covers.

Cubic shapes play an astonishing role in the design of tangible interactive devices. Due to our curiosity for this widespread design preference lasting over thirty years, we constituted a literature survey of papers, books and products since the late 1970s. Out of a corpus of fourty-seven papers, books and products that propose cubic shapes for tangible interactive devices we trace the origins of cubicle tangibles and highlight the rationale for their application. Through a comparative study, we analyze the properties of this shape for tangible interaction design and classify these along the themes of: Manipulation as Input, Placement in Space as Input, Arrangement, Multifunctionality, Randomness, Togetherness & Variations, Physical Qualities, Container, and Pedestal for Output. We propose a taxonomy for cubic shaped tangible interactive devices based on the reviewed contributions, in order to support researchers and designers in their future work of designing cubic shaped tangible interactive devices. 

Kevin Lefeuvre, Soeren Totzauer, Michael Storz, Albrecht Kurze, Andreas Bischof, and Arne Berger. 2018. Bricks, Blocks, Boxes, Cubes, and Dice: On the Role of Cubic Shapes for the Design of Tangible Interactive Devices. In Proceedings of the 2018 Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS ’18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 485–496. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3196709.3196768