Towards Geospatial Tangible User Interfaces: An Observational User Study Exploring Geospatial Interactions of the Novice

  • Catherine Emma JonesEmail author
  • Valérie Maquil
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 582)


Tangible user interfaces (TUI) such as tangible tabletops have potential as novel and innovative learning environments for mapping applications across a wide range of geospatial learning activities. This is because they offer a more natural and intuitive class of interface to users and they are fun to use. For realising their potential as a new type of geo-technology, they must be easy and straightforward to learn and remember how to use. Furthermore, the different types of tangible object interactions should align to the mental models and cultural perceptions of different types of users. This paper reports on the results of an initial observational of a small set of novice users. Users were recorded completing six tasks whilst thinking aloud. The resulting analysis revealed how easy it was for the novice to discover the different types of geospatial tangible interactions (e.g., zoom, pan, adding layers, working with layers). Formed around the categories of (1) everyday cartographic elements and their everyday metaphors, (2) object manipulations, and (3) offline interactions we propose a set usability guidelines for geospatial tangible tables. The aim is to provide an evidence base on which to improve future iterations of the improving their usability, usefulness and increasing their potential as a learning interface.


Tangible user interface Cartography Geospatial information Usability Qualitative study User study Tangible interfaces TUI Mapping User centred design Interactive tabletops 



This work has been partially funded by the Interreg IVb project Weastflows and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). We would like to extend our thanks to all the experiment participants who provided excellent data on which we could base this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CVCELuxembourgLuxembourg
  2. 2.Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)LuxembourgLuxembourg

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