[Paper Review #8 15/11/16] SCI-FI: Shape-Changing Interfaces, Future Interactions

SCI-FI: Shape-Changing Interfaces, Future Interactions

Giovanni Maria Troiano, John Tiab, Youn-Kyung Lim, NordiCHI '16


This paper reviews 340 Sci-Fi movies to identify shape-changing instances and understand their behavioral patterns. Among 240 movies, 61 movies contain 101 shape-changing instances in total. Two authors analyze the instances using affinity diagram, inspired by thematic analysis [1]. They reveal behavioral patterns and functionalities as follows (The higher classification is called pattern, and the lower classification is called functionality):

  1. "Reconfiguration expresses the capacity of a SCI to change in formation or to reconfigure its structure."
    1. Assembling / Disassembling
    2. Reshaping Environments
    3. Revealing Interactive Parts
  2. "Transformation expresses the capacity of a SCI to change in form and in appearance."
    1. Camouflage
    2. Morphing
  3. "Adaptation expresses the capacity of SCI to adjust their shape, so as to fulfill users' needs or adapt to specific situations."
    1. Finding the Intended Shape
    2. Expanding
    3. Reversing Shape
  4. "Physicalization expresses the capacity of a SCI of extruding shapes from its surface to physicalize digital information or to ultimately generate physical matter."
    1. Representation
    2. Materialization

Method and Tools

  1. code shape-changing instances in the movies [coded data]
  2. cross check if there are missed instances by fast playing movies (with Chrome Video Speed Controller plug-in and PotPlayer)
  3. make affinity diagram (Mural.ly). The authors go through 5 iterations, and it took 2~3 weeks

What I like

  • The paper is very well structured and easy to read.
  • The method has academic background, and took enough time and iteraction
  • The figures well help understand what they explain in the text.


  • What was the tool to code video?
  • Number of instances per pattern and functionality
  • I think this paper can extend Joelle Coutaz's plasticity definition, especially its purposes: to fit into environment; to fit to users; to fit the task performed.

Further to read

1. Soegaard, M. and Dam, R.F. 2011. Semi-structured Qualitative Studies. In The Encyclopedia of Human- Computer Interaction (2nd Ed.). The Interaction Design Fundation.