TED talk “Siftables”

A colleague of mine liked me to a TED presentation by David Merrill of the MIT Media lab. He shows and examines a digital media interface technology called “Siftables”


This is going to be huge for tactile learners. Merrill refers to children with building blocks, and the metaphor is great for capturing the possibilities. Instead of sliding scales or clicking toggles, changing settings becomes a question of rotation, tilt, and relational positioning. Replacing the point-and-click cursor with a multiple, spatially manipulate-able interface of the Siftables will not only be amazing for tactile learners, but continues the trend of bringing the digitial world and the embodied world together into one.

From the instant tactile calculators to the word games for in-classroom use or a game to be enjoyed at home, to the Siftable-to-screen interactions with the open-ended storytelling possibilities (imagine using these Siftables for Role-Playing Games, with each character as a group of Siftables, items and spells and modifiers, relating to one another in space to map tactical movement and more), this technology pushes human-computer interface along a similar line to the iPhone or the Nintendo Wii — remember what each of those has done for their field, and then we have a good idea of the ways that Siftables can develop the nature of our interactions with the computers that surround us.

I look forward to seeing more from this design concept, and hope that they make their way into the education world to offer a wider variety of learning tools.

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