shiftIO: Reconfigurable Tactile Elements for Dynamic Affordances and Mobile Interaction

Evan Strasnick
Jackie Yang
Kesler Tanner
Sean Follmer
Proceedings of CHI 2017 (SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems), ACM, pp. 5075-5086


Currently, virtual (i.e. touchscreen) controls are dynamic, but lack the advantageous tactile feedback of physical controls. Similarly, devices may also have dedicated physical controls, but they lack the flexibility to adapt for different contexts and applications. On mobile and wearable devices in particular, space constraints further limit our input and output capabilities. We propose utilizing reconfigurable tactile elements around the edge of a mobile device to enable dynamic physical controls and feedback. These tactile elements can be used for physical touch input and output, and can reposition according to the application both around the edge of and hidden within the device. We present shiftIO, two implementations of such a system which actuate physical controls around the edge of a mobile device using magnetic locomotion. One version utilizes PCB-manufactured electromagnetic coils, and the other uses switchable permanent magnets. We perform a technical evaluation of these prototypes and compare their advantages in various applications. Finally, we demonstrate several mobile applications which leverage shiftIO to create novel mobile interactions.