Since last year we have in Germany a working group on graspable/tangible interaction in mixed realities.
In German the key term we use is “begreifbar” or “begreifen” which has the meaning of acquire a deep understanding of something and the words basic meaning is to touch. Basically understand by touching – but in a more fundamental sense than grasping or getting grip. Hence the list of translations for “begreifen” given in the dictionary is quite long.
Perhaps we should push more for the word in the international community – Towards interaction that is begreifbar (English has too few foreign terms anyway ;-)
This meeting was organized by Reto Wettach at Potsdam and the objective was to have two days to invent things together. The mix of people mainly included people from computer science and design. It is always amazing how many ideas come up if you put 25 people for a day in a room :-) We followed this week up on some of the ideas related to new means for communication – there are defiantly interesting student projects on this topic.
In the evening we had a half pecha-kucha (each person 10 slides of 20 seconds – in total 3:20, the original is 20 slides) http://www.pecha-kucha.org/. It is a great way of getting quickly to know about work, research, ideas, and background of other people. It could be format we could use more in teaching a perhaps for ad-hoc sessions at a new conference we plan (e.g. http://auto-ui.org) … prepared my slides on the train in the morning – and it is more challenging that expected to get a set of meaningful pictures together for 10 slides.
Overall the workshop showed that there is a significant interest and expertise in Germany moving from software ergonomics to modern human computer interaction.
There is a new person on our team (starting next week) – perhaps you can spot him on the pics.