Face-to-Face Collaborative Interfaces

Aaron J. Quigley*, Florin Bodea

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter provides an introduction to research and developments in multitouch input technologies that can be used to realize large interactive tabletop or "surface user interfaces." Such hardware systems, along with supporting software, allow for applications that can be controlled through direct touch or multitouch. Further, a review of gestural interactions and design guidelines for surface user interface design for collaboration is also provided. Multitouch surface user interfaces (SUIs) can be mounted vertically on walls or horizontally on tables. They are capable of sensing the location of finger(s) when contact with the surface is made. SUIs are used in public places (kiosks, ATMs) or in small personal devices (PDAs, iPhones) where a separate keyboard and mouse cannot or should not be used. Basic SUIs have been common for over 20 years in the form of interactive kiosks, ATMs, and point-of-sale systems, which rely on touch-screen technology with simple button interfaces. The current generation of SUIs suitable for face-to-face interaction are built on LCD displays or form-factored into walls or coffee tables. In their current form they cannot be considered a basic object. However, display technologies are now ubiquitous, and if SUI interaction styles can be woven into the environments and activities of everyday life and their industrial design improved, invisibility in action can be achieved. The ultimate goal of surface user interfaces in collaborative face-to-face activities is for people not to feel they are using a computer; instead, the visual elements should naturally support their actions. Ultimately, SUIs will become so commonplace in everyday life that no one will notice their presence. They will be aesthetic, powerful, and enhance our lives but so too will they be commonplace, obvious, and boring.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Centric Interfaces for Ambient Intelligence
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9780123747082
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


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