FloTree: A multi-touch interactive simulation of evolutionary processes

Kien Chuan Chua*, Yongqiang Qin, Florian Block, Brenda Phillips, Judy Diamond, E. Margaret Evans, Michael S. Horn, Chia Shen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We present FloTree, a multi-user simulation that illustrates key dynamic processes underlying evolutionary change. Our intention is to create a informal learning environment that links micro-level evolutionary processes to macro-level outcomes of speciation and biodiversity. On a multi-touch table, the simulation represents change from generation to generation in a population of organisms. By placing hands or arms on the surface, visitors can add environmental barriers, thus interrupting the genetic flow between the separated populations. This results in sub-populations that accumulate genetic differences independently over time, sometimes leading to the formation of new species. Learners can morph the result of the simulation into a corresponding phylogenetic tree. The free-form hand and body touch gestures invite creative input from users, encourages social interaction, and provides an opportunity for deep engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationITS 2012 - Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event7th ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, ITS 2012 - Cambridge, MA, United States
Duration: 11 Nov 201214 Nov 2012


Conference7th ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, ITS 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCambridge, MA


  • evolution
  • interactive
  • population genetics
  • simulation

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