TuneTable is a responsive tabletop application with a tangible user interface. It is intended to teach basic computer programming concepts like looping, functions, sequencing, and parallellism to middle school-aged and high school-aged students (9-16 years old) using physical blocks.
Initially we designed the blocks to be arranged in a linear sequences. Although the sequences could be oriented in any direction, we noticed that users tended to only approach the table from the side that the block text was facing. To encourage collaboration from all sides of the table, we redesigned the blocks to be rotation independent by making block connections more flexible and using symbols instead of words.
Unused Block Concepts
We wanted users to understand innately how blocks fit together, so they were designed like puzzle pieces. We considered designing the blocks to look like a cartoon-y fish or snake as they were chained together, bud decided that adding an animal metaphor would distract from the original intent of teaching through music creation.
Our current block iteration was prototyped using cardboard, paper and post-its. We asked other students about their initial assumptions and how they accomplish specific goals.
How it works
TuneTable uses a camera inside the table and reacTIVision to track the symbols (”fiducials”, pictured left) that are fixed on the underside of each blocks. A projector also inside the table is used to project visual feedback (created using Processing) onto the underside of the table's surface.