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Tangible interface simulations to improve spatial reasoning skills


Tangible interface, Simulation, Tinkerlamp, Carpenters

Learning objective
Improve spatial reasoning skills, learn the "folding technique" to determine the true size of an object from its orthographic projection
2 lesson units
Groups (of 2-3 people)
Tangible interface, augmented reality lamp (Tinkerlamp)


In this scenario, carpenter apprentices use TapaCarp, a tangible interface, to explore relations between 2D and 3D representations. They work on activities prepared by the teacher using blocks, cards, and the Tinkerlamp system.
TapaCarp is an experience that runs on the Tinkerlamp, which is a camera-projector tabletop system. The system detects objects equipped with special tags and provides visual feedback through the projector. For instance, 3D wooden blocks are recognized and their orthographic projections along with a perspective view of the object are displayed. The 2D and 3D representations are dynamically linked, allowing the users to explore the 2D-3D relationship by moving the blocks and seeing the effect of the movements on each view. Cards allow users to interact with the Tinkerlamp system to issue actions or change options.

Beschreibung des Lehransatzes

A Tangible User Interface (TUI) is a user interface which allows someone to interact with digital information through the manipulation of physical objects. These interfaces build on the intuitive knowledge people have of their everyday objects and take advantage of their rich physical affordances.
The purpose of tangible interface development is to empower collaboration, learning, and design by giving physical forms to digital information.
One benefit of a tangible interface is that it enables an enactive mode of reasoning, as well as empirical abstractions of sensori-motor schemes. It favors exploratory behaviors because tangibles are natural and intuitive to use, and at the same time constrain the range of configuration that can be made with the material.


Do It Yourself 


This is the original tool used in the scenario.

Other simulators
Other simulators

There are a number of warehouse simulators on the market. Some examples include AnyLogic, Korber Supply Chain, and SimCad Pro. While these simulators do not have tangible interfaces like the TinkerLamp, students can still use them to design and simulate warehouse layouts.

Tipps und Tricks

  • This scenario is best used with the Tinkerlamp system. If the Tinkerlamp is not available, there are other spatial reasoning toolkits that could be used, such as Think3D!.

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Diskutieren und austauschen

Sie können Ihre Erfahrungen mit den Szenarien im skillsnet Community-Netzwerk diskutieren und austauschen:


  • EPFL Tapacarp website

  • Cuendet, S., & Dillenbourg, P. (Éds.). (2013). The Benefits and Limitations of Distributing a Tangible Interface in a Classroom.

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