Rapid Prototying of Distributed User Interfaces

This paper introduces a software tool for rapid prototyping of interactive systems whose user interfaces could be distributed according to four axes defined in a design space: type of computing platform, amount of interaction surfaces, type of interaction surface, and type of user interface. This software is based on a virtual toolkit for rendering the user interfaces in a virtual world depicting the real world in which the distribution occurs. The virtual toolkit consists of a layer for rendering a concrete user interface specified in a user interface description language. This paper presents its extension to modeling the external environment in terms of the design space so as to render the context of use in which the user interfaces are distributed. For each axis, a pair of functions enables exploring the axis in decreasing and increasing order so as to explore various situations of distribution, axis by axis, or in a combined way. As the interfaces resulting from this rendering are truly executable ones, this system provides designers with an acceptable means for generating ideas about how a user interface can be distributed in a context of use, and helps to evaluate the quality of a solution at an early design stage. Four representative situations located on the design space are implemented and discussed: distribution in a multi-platform context, distribution of the workplace, ubiquitous computing, and ambient intelligence, thus proving the coverage of the design space and the capabilities of the whole system.
Springer-Verlag, Berlin
Proc. of 6th Int. Conf. on Computer-Aided Design of User Interfaces