From Conceptual Links to Causal Relations — Physical-Virtual Artefacts in Mixed-Reality Space

Sammanfattning: This thesis presents a set of concepts and a general design approach for designing Mixed Reality environments based on the idea that the physical (real) world and the virtual (digital) world are equally important and share many properties. Focus is on the design of a technology infrastructure intended to relieve people from some of the extra efforts currently needed when performing activities that make heavy use of both worlds. An important part of the proposed infrastructure is the idea of creating Physical-Virtual Artefacts, objects manifested in the physical and the virtual world at the same time.The presented work challenges the common view of Human-Computer Interaction as a research discipline mainly dealing with the design of “user interfaces” by proposing an alternative or complementary view, a physical-virtual design perspective, abstracting away the user interface, leaving only physical and virtual objects. There are at least three motives for adopting such a design perspective: 1) people well acquainted with specific (physical and virtual) environments are typically more concerned with the manipulation of (physical and virtual) objects than the user interface through which they are accessed. 2) Such a design stance facilitates the conceptualisation of objects that bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual world. 3) Many physical and virtual objects are manifested in both worlds already today. The existing conceptual link between these physical and virtual objects has only to be complemented with causal relations in order to reduce the costs in crossing the border between the physical and the virtual world.A range of concepts are defined and discussed at length in order to frame the design space, including physical-virtual environment gap, physical-virtual activity, physical-virtual artefact, and physical-virtual environment.Two conceptual models of physical-virtual space are presented as a result of adopting the physical-virtual design perspective: for the analysis of object logistics in the context of physical-virtual activities, and for describing structural properties of physical-virtual space respectively. A prototype system offering some degree of physical-virtual infrastructure is also presented.