January 5, 2015

An Array of User Scenarios for Force Interactions

HCI research, UI, UX


Telekinetic control complimented with teletactics or the ability to feel objects being controlled is a new form of interaction (a.k.a The Force). We wanted to explore how this interaction could be used. We examined the Sphero ball as not only an object that could telekinetically + teletactically be manipulated but also serve as a “minion” for other smart devices or even inanimate objects.

The videos that you will see on this page are the various user scenarios that I envisioned for this interaction. They are snap shots of my progress after each user scenario was implemented.

Exploring a Varied Terrain

I began this project with the vision of the user reaching towards an object of interest and being able to not only control it but also “feel” it. In the user scenario below the user is able to feel the shape of the sphere and the textures that it passes over through the vibromotor located on the wrist-worn controller. Some textures are simulated like the rock patterns, where the bumps feel faster or slower based on the speed of the ball. Other textures are from the actual terrain of the floor, such as the bumps and ridges from the obstacle course. Here I’m taking the tri-axis accelerometer data from the Sphero ball and transmitting it to the onboard vibromotor of the wrist-worn controller.

Minions for Other Smart Devices

In these scenarios the Sphero balls tangibly extend the interfaces of existing devices as “minions”. Here the Sphero is a minion for the Smart light. The user can set light colors by dragging the minion over top their desired color palette and moving it towards the light. The proximity of the minion to the light controls the the brightness of the light. The closer the minion is to the light the brighter it will be similar to a fader control. If the minion is not within the region of the light it will remain turned off.

Here these Sphero balls are minions for a music player. The axis on the floor represent on/off, volume and songs. The various setting options include turning the music on and off, adjusting the volume from high to muted and the ability to play from a selection of 5 songs.

Tangible Notifications

In these user scenarios we explored the concept of urgency based on the number of Sphero balls. The higher the urgency of a notification the more “minions” were used to alert the user. The below videos show an urgent reminder on a mobile device and a non-urgent Skype call.

Conveying Other Objects

We wanted to explore what it would be like to use a “minion” again but now for smaller movable objects. In order to allow this, we designed and 3D printed a sleigh that could straddle a Sphero and pull very light objects.

Sphero sleigh.

Here is an example of a minion moving a coke bottle. The bottle is a little heavier then desired and the minions is encountering some difficulty in pulling. I later adjusted some parameters to improve this.

Design & Implementation

This project truly allowed me to showcase my creativity. I used the physicality of the user’s surroundings, inanimate objects, non-tangible digital content and smart devices in the interactions that telekinetic with teletactic interactions could allow.

When technically approaching implementation of a scenario, I looked at it as a state machine. Each important aspect of the interaction is a state, and then detailed what would allow for transitions to occur. Here is an example of one of my initial sketches showing the states as circles and transitions as rectangles for the non-urgent video call scenario.

State machine sketch for a scenario.

To conclude, here is a video of minions “practicing” hiding away when they are no longer needed or done for the day 🙂

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