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Physical computing takes this approach beyond the information context to include physical architecture. GUIs have long been built on principles of shifting focus – picking up a tool, opening and closing a window, etc – but they still leave us staring at a cluttered screen. Portable and embedded systems take the information processing into the physical realm, where the capacity for periphery is deeper and the act of bringing things to the centre is more intuitive. Principles of periphery can of course help reduce contention on a screen, but they also suggest a larger shift in our goals for natural interactions. [McCullough, 2004]

As a response to this relatively new research field “The Disappearing Computer” (DC) is one of the most forward looking and experimental research areas of the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002), an EU initiative to support research and development in Europe. The Disappearing Computer initiative belongs to the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) activity of the Fifth Framework's Information Societies Technologies (IST) research programme. It would be very interesting to take a look at the mission of the initiative:

“Mission Statement To see how information technology can be diffused into everyday objects and settings, and to see how this can lead to

new ways of supporting and enhancing people's lives that go above and beyond what is possible with the computer today. Specifically, the initiative looks at how to make ‘information

artefacts’ based on new software and hardware architectures that are integrated into everyday objects .It looks at how collections of artefacts can act together, so as to produce new

behaviour and new functionality. It investigates the new approaches for designing for collections of artefacts in everyday settings, and how to ensure that people’s experience

in these new environments is coherent and engaging.” [http://www.disappearing-computer.net/mission.html]accessed July 05

Physical Computing:

Using Everyday Objects as Communication tools

Fig. 16 The Disappearing Computer [source: http://www.disappearing- computer.net/]


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