Recently I came across the clip on youtube showing a novel gui (graphic user interface), the BumpTop 3D Desktop , as a way to help manage a user to sort icons of documents on their computer’s desktop. Of interest are the subtle references to our habits in keeping some sort of organizational structure in chaotic piles of paper.
At first glance this gui looks playful and I thought it would be great to have, especially with a pen based input like on a tablet computer. Then I noticed that the stacks of documents just look like poker chips being pushed about ( the ‘$$$ ringed’ hand, at sec 12 in the clip, might be a give away).
The interaction with computers the input side of things is still mostly base on the WIMP (Windows, Icon, Mouse, Pointer) system a rather archaic way of interfacing with computers, especially when it comes to graphics or 3d modeling work. There are however some devices like the Phantom Haptic Device by Sensable that enable the operator to touch, feel and manipulate virtual environments.
More about haptic .
The following chapter is from a presentation at the Challenging Craft conference in Aberdeen, Scotland 2004.
1.2 RESEARCH INTO INTEGRATION OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES WITH CRAFT
Any research to integrate new technologies within craft can only benefit through the direct involvement of craft practitioners. Their ‘hands-on’ approach will shape the practical outcomes required to make new technologies a tool for their practice.
The following TACITUS project is an example of looking at how a craft practitioner could better interact with a CAD system. The lack of dexterity while designing on a CAD system, typically using only a mouse and keyboard, was at the heart of the TACITUS project.
Ann Marie Shillito presented a paper about the TACITUS project at the PixelRaiders 2  conference in April 2004 at the Sheffield Hallam University. A practicing artist herself, she shared her findings in regards to this project: ‘Our research has identified that a niche exists, in the germinal phase of designing, for exploiting the potential of a digital medium with haptic feedback. Such an interface would enable idea formulation and creative activities to be performed with the same intuitive & fluid transmodal interaction as sketching on paper and with as great a sense and degree of engagement as in modelmaking.’ The stated aims of this three-year collaborative research project include the exploitation of the advantages of being able to work, think and respond in a virtual environment [to stay] more ‘in touch’ with creative working practices and to discover the degrees of multi-sensory feedback required for artists and designers to work intuitively using their tacit knowledge and skills. TACITUS was based on the Reachin Technologies using the Phantom Haptic Device that enables users to touch, feel and manipulate virtual environments. The user’s dominant hand holds the finely engineered force feedback pen-like mechanism which has had its stylus tip accurately calibrated to the x,y,z co-ordinates of the virtual space.
When I had ‘first-hand’ experience with such a device at the Haptic Workbench at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, I was intrigued how convincingly ones mind can be fooled by a simulated hand–eye interaction. After distorting virtual material for a while I noticed, that the hardest surface sensation the Phantom device was able to simulate was that of a cricket ball. When the simulated tool silently clicked against the virtual surface, it produced the feel of hitting leather. Being a silversmith I found this feedback irritating and distracting. This kind of research is an example of looking at the ‘front-end’, the input-side, trying to overcome the limitations of mouse and keyboard while interacting/modelling on CAD system.
 Ann Marie Shillito, Tacitus Project, http://www.pixelraiders.org/
Accessed 7/7/04, 3:10 pm.