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Linking digital tabletops with physical paper for creative interactions

Internship proposal at in|situ|

Advisors: Theophanis Tsandilas ( & Anastasia Bezerianos (


Our experience at LRI has shown that paper is indispensable for several groups of users. For example, several composers of contemporary music are proficient users of computers but still use paper at different stages of the composition process, from sketching initial ideas to working on final scores [1]. Biology researchers rely on paper notebooks to record research protocols, data and results [2]. Architects use paper to work on designs, distribute them and make contract commitments [3]. Anoto technology has made the connection between paper and computers practical: a pen with a tiny embedded camera captures traces of ink with respect to a unique dot pattern printed on the paper. Yet, linking handwritten content with the digital world is still a challenging problem as paper is not interactive and the feedback provided by current digital pens is still extremely limited.

The goal of the proposed internship is to study seamless links between paper and digital media and help users effectively switch between computation and freeform interaction. We are particularly interested in studying such links in digital tabletops, where physical paper is augmented with digital information and pen interaction is complemented with multi-touch forms of user input. We expect that such settings could promote creativity, allowing users to easily move from early sketches, better supported by paper, to detailed designs, better supported by computational media. They could also encourage collocated collaboration and reflection over data, where data can be either informal and unstructured (e.g., handwritten notes and diagrams) or highly structured (e.g., hierarchical visualizations). Our goal is to study such forms of interaction in conjunction with platforms currently available in our lab: digital pens and interactive paper technologies, multi-touch tabletops and top-projection systems.

The internship will be an introduction to research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), focusing on augmented paper and multi-touch interaction. The student will work on the design and implementation of interaction techniques that link handwritten content and digital data on the fly and combine them on a multi-touch surface. Finally, the student will learn about HCI evaluation methods and, ideally, will conduct an experiment to test the developed techniques with human subjects.

For information about our previous projects on interactive paper, visit our team's page.

Required skills

We are looking for motivated students who are enthusiastic about user-interface design. Good knowledge of Java is required. Previous experience with multi-touch technologies and user-interface development is a plus.


  1. Tsandilas, T., Letondal, C. and Mackay, W. E. (2009). Musink: Composing Music through Augmented Drawing. CHI 2009, pp. 819-828.
  2. Mackay, W. E., Pothier, G., Letondal, C., Bøegh, K. and Sørensen, H. E. (2002). The Missing Link: Augmenting Biology Laboratory Notebooks. UIST 2002, pp. 41-50.
  3. Song, H., Grossman, T., Fitzmaurice, G., Guimbretière, F., Khan, A., Attar, R., et al. (2009). Penlight: Combining a Mobile Projector and a Digital Pen for Dynamic Visual Overlay. ACM CHI, pp. 143-152.