Designing a Tangible Map

What is the purpose of a tangible interface? Current interfaces treat our sense of touch in a binary or tertiary sense, relying on tapping and rumble affordances to signal pressure. At the Design Lab, we sought to think about ways of working with our senses beyond the flat surfaces of our screens.

Featuring over 150 custom printed buildings, the Tangible Map is a permanent installation located at MIT’s welcome center.

tl;dr
  • Developed and delivered a hybrid tangible-digital interface for exploring the MIT campus.
client
roles
  • Product manager
  • Industrial and physical interface design
  • User Research and digital interface design
research
collaborators
  • CK Wong, Hyungie Sung, Marco Agular, Tiffany Liu, Dishaan Ahuja
Industrial design studies of the exterior of the map. The design of the legs is inspired by the unusual angles of local streets.
Microanimations provide feedback when a user touches an active point.
Material sample tests assist with picking the ideal touchpoint and styling of the geometry.
An alignment system is generated via python so all the buildings register with the digital interface.
The map combines an identifiable touchpoint for each building with a solid state capacitive trigger designed for an indefinite lifespan.
The map undergoing user testing after installation. User research also informed the digital interface that encouraged exploration.