CubeExplorer: An Evaluation of Interaction Techniques in Architectural Education
During the early stages of architectural training, tangibility plays an important role in developing spatial awareness. In such contexts, tangible user interfaces are believed to provide a significant advantage as they combine the affordances of both the physical and the digital world. We introduce CubeExplorer, a hybrid 3D conceptual aid that combines physical interaction and digital modeling in an effort to complement conventional architectural space-training tools (such as physical materials and digital CAD programs). Using a digital pen as an input mechanism, CubeExplorer lets users perform subtractive 3D geometric operations on a simple paper based cube model while observing the resulting model on a display. The tangibility of the model simplifies navigation and command execution, while the digital interface makes it easy for users to explore multiple alternative designs. To evaluate the potential of such an approach, we conducted a user study in a normal classroom environment where students were provided with physical (wooden block), hybrid (CubeExplorer), and virtual (FormZ) interfaces to complete the same assignment. Our evaluation showed that CubeExplorer combined the advantages of both digital and tangible media. The advantages of CubeExplorer over digital media were substantiated in a follow-up study comparing CubeExplorer and SketchUp in a similar building task.
by Hyunyoung Song, François Guimbretière, Michael A. Ambrose, Carl Lostritto in "INTERACT 2007: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil"