Tangible user interfaces: Tools to examine, assess, and treat dynamic constructional processes in children with developmental coordination disorders

Sigal Jacoby, Naomi Josman, Doron Jacoby, Patrice L. Weiss, Minori Koike, Yuichi Itoh, Norifumi Kawai, Yoshifumi Kitamura, Ehud Sharlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tangible User Interfaces (TUIs) are a subset of human-computer interfaces that try to capture more of the users' innate ability of handling physical objects in the real world. The TUI known as ActiveCube is a set of graspable plastic cubes, which allow the user to physically attach or detach cubes by connecting or disconnecting their faces. When users assemble a physical shape using the system they also connect a network topology which allows ActiveCube to digitize and track the exact 3D geometry of the physical structure formed. From the user's perspective, ActiveCube is a very powerful tool; the 3D shape being built with it physically is tracked in the virtual domain in realtime. ActiveCube's use as a concrete, ecologically valid tool to understand dynamic functional processes underlying constructional ability in either typically developed children or in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) has not yet been explored. Objective: To describe the ActiveCube interface designed for assessing and treating children with DCD. Methods: In our pilot study, six male children, aged 6 to 7 years, three with DCD and three who are typically developed were tested. The children's task was to successively use the ActiveCubes to construct 3D structures in a “matching” strategy known as “Perspective Matching”. Results: The usability results showed that all the participating children enjoyed the tasks, were motivated and maintained a high level of alertness while using the ActiveCubes. More than 80% of them found the tasks to be easy or moderate. “Similarity” data from single suhjects has been used to show differences in constructional ability between children with DCD and those who are typically developed. Conclusion: This automated ActiveCube threedimensional (3D) constructional paradigm has promise for the assessment and treatment of children with DCD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006


  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • assessment
  • constructional ability
  • tangible user interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Sensory Systems
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Speech and Hearing


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