DataTiles is inspired by the film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, where the memory of the computer HAL was stored in transparent rectangular slabs. The system enables users to manipulate digital data as physical DataTiles.
Tagged transparent acrylic tiles are embedded with RFID tags. These tiles serve both as physical windows for digital information and to trigger specific actions (to launch an application, or submit a query) when placed on a sensor-enhanced display surface. When a tile is placed on the tray, its associated function is automatically triggered. For example, placing a weather tile onto the tray retrieves the current weather forecast information from the Internet and displays the processed results on the region of the screen under the tile.
Users can use a pen or a mouse to interact with the information displayed by DataTiles. Several combinations of physical and graphical interfaces are possible. For example, a printed high-res image (on a tile) can be visually fused with dynamic displayed graphics. Grooves engraved upon the tile surfaces also act as passive haptic guides of pen operations.
The tiles can be used independently or can be combined into more complex configurations.