FlowBlocks: A multi-touch UI for crowd interaction

Florian Block*, Daniel Wigdor, Brenda Caldwell Phillips, Michael S. Horn, Chia Shen

*Corresponding author for this work

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


Multi-touch technology lends itself to collaborative crowd interaction (CI). However, common tap-operated widgets are impractical for CI, since they are susceptible to accidental touches and interference from other users. We present a novel multi-touch interface called FlowBlocks in which every UI action is invoked through a small sequence of user actions: dragging parametric UI-Blocks, and dropping them over operational UI-Docks. The FlowBlocks approach is advantageous for CI because it a) makes accidental touches inconsequential; and b) introduces design parameters for mutual awareness, concurrent input, and conflict management. FlowBlocks was successfully used on the floor of a busy natural history museum. We present the complete design space and describe a year-long iterative design and evaluation process which employed the Rapid Iterative Test and Evaluation (RITE) method in a museum setting.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUIST'12 - Proceedings of the 25th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event25th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2012 - Cambridge, MA, United States
Duration: 7 Oct 201210 Oct 2012


Conference25th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, UIST 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCambridge, MA


  • Crowd interaction
  • Drag & drop
  • Multi-touch UI

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