Physical Interfaces in the Electronic Arts Interaction Theory and Interfacing Techniques for Real-time Performance

For a new blog entry, we had to read a paper about the topic mentioned above by Bert Bongers. The paper describes aspects of physical interfaces in the electronic arts. It’s splits into two parts where one of them is describing the interactions that can take place in electronic arts through a Human Factors point of view and the other one is more practical explaining more details about sensory technologies and categories to make physical interaction possible.

He later on mentioned that the early roots of electronic media are laying in music. Humans have always been making music by using objects. In the first half of 20th century most of them where based on a keyboard, which had proven to be a versatile interface. Theremin which operates with gesture-sensitive antennas changing pitch and volume of a tone generated by an oscillator are also some cool intervention. For many years, the keyboard and a number of knobs were the standard interface objects for making electronic music.

What interaction occur frequently in Performance Arts?

There are many interactions possible between performer, (electronic) system and audience.

»Interaction between a human and a system is a two way process: control and feedback. The interaction takes place through an interface (or instrument) which translates real world actions into signals in the virtual domain of the system. These are usually electric signals, often digital as in the case of a computer. The system is controlled by the user, and the system gives feedback to help the user to articulate the control, or feed-forward to actively guide the user. Feed forward is generated by the system to reveal information about its internal state.«

Bert Bongers, Page 5


Sensors are the sense organs of a machine. Sensors convert physical energy (from the outside world) into electricity (into the machine world).

Sensors are available to convert energy quantities like:

• kinetic (incl. pressure, torque, inertia);
• light;
• sound;
• temperature;
• smell;
• humidity;
• electricity;
• magnetism;
• electro-magnetism (radio waves)

There are a lot of sensors explained in this paper.
These following sensors are listed below:
Pressure sensors, Switches, Movement, Sensors for Water Pavillon, Flexiforce sensors, Sidepot meters and pulling sensors, tension sensor, bend sensor, Lady’s Glove and Walter Fabeck’s glove, ultrasound transducers, tilt switcher, magnetic field sensors and proximity sensor.

A collage of the sensors

It was a very interesting paper and also quite easy to understand comparing to other scientific papers. It summarizes a lot of different topics and everything is well explained.