Mutual Information Representation between Physical and Digital World

 “Imagine a spherical being living outside of any gravitational field, with no knowledge or imagination of any other kind of experience. What could UP possibly mean to such a being?” [1] Human’s understanding of the world and using their imagination is a lot related to embodiment. We have developed our cognition using our bodies and perceptions. Nowadays, it seems like that we have tied our bodies into keyboard, mouse and touch screen when we learn concepts and develop ideas. 

Computer science has leveraged the way that human accumulate and process information. However, the channel that human can manipulate and comprehend the information is still limited. For instance, when biologists synthesize a medicine, they need to sit in front of computer and play around virtual molecules. Why can’t they play with Lego-like physical objects that they can see which block can fit in which place and “feel” when the block is connected to another block? Why don’t we have a tool for it?

Shape-Changing Interface is a promising solution to the gap between digital and physical world. It can physicalize digital data for display. It can also leverage human’s full-body for creative idea establishment and natural communication between human. Barriers to realize shape-changing interfaces are getting lower and lower, since HCI researchers are adopting technologies from robotics, material science and chemistry.

As a PhD student, I wish to contribute to this big stream of shape-changing interface, and see its fundamental and positive impact on human being’s knowledge development.

[1] Shapiro, Larry (March 2007). "The Embodied Cognition Programme" (PDF). Philosophy Compass. 2 (2). doi:10.1111/j.1747-9991.2007.00064.x