Organic User Interfaces is an emerging vision for future user interfaces that attempts to map out a future where these technologies are a common place. It is based on an understanding physical shape of the displays and computing devices will become an important design variable for future interfaces. Indeed, not onlywill future displays be able to take any arbitrary shape, but the shape itself will by dynamic, either modified by the user, or self-actuated.

OUIs are flexible non-planar displays that act both as output and input devices. “When flexible, OUIs have the ability to become the data on display through deformation, either via manipulation or actuation. Their fluid physics-based graphics are shaped through multitouch and bi-manual gestures.”OUI design principles include that they should be created so the function of the device equals its form, for an intuitive interaction. They should be made from transitive, shape shifting materials that allows the form of the display to follow its changing function and flow

The WIMP interaction style, introduced by D.Engelbart in 1968, was a major milestone for the designof graphical user interfaces and is still predominantamong current operating systems . Since then, manydesign guidelines and rules  have been proposed.

With the notion of Organic User Interfaces (OUI), we try to capture the essence of these principles in a new design metaphor.OUIs respect and are inspired by the natural laws of physics, biology, and human cognition. They must follow the principles of fluidity, intuitiveness,robustness, and calmness.




An interface is fluid if it s governed by a set of simple rules, easily understood by the user. This principle is manifested in our seamless interactions with the physical world: a typical desk activity like thumbing through a pile of paper is a graceful transition from awareness to focus. Because the laws of physics are always in effect, the pile never acts in an unexpected manner. Similarly complex biological systems, like bird flight paths, emerge from simple rules that make the overallsystem appearself-organizing. OUIs support this notion by providing clear rules that enforce consistent constraintsthroughout the system.


OUIs appear familiar by making use of clear affordances, natural mappings, and constraints.Analogies are found in biologicalsystems: a leaf avoids being weighed down by manifesting an appropriate form and texture to repel water. This can be considered as an evolutionary affordance. For the user, we must understand the abilities and limitations of human cognition, and eventually find the most natural interactions and representations to support the task.OUIs convey a natural understanding of their underlying functionality.


The underlying system of an OUI must be as robust as possible. Like biologicalsystems, itshould avoid hazards, recover from errors, and operate with degraded functionality, until repair is available. Although this notion has been explored in biologically inspired algorithms, it has not been adapted to the user interface.


A calm interface will never interfere with the user’s natural flow of work. Information output is represented in a non-intrusive way, which is immediately available if needed but otherwise not distracting. In nature, a forest conveys a great deal of information in a very calm and soothing way. The visitor can concentrate on the information provided or simply ignore it and focus on something else. Similarly, OUIs must allow the user to decide, how much attention to focus on the interface.


Fly  is an organic presentation tool that adds a spatial structure to a presentation. It uses the concept of Mind Maps to organize the structure of a presentation. Using color associations, spatial relations, and fluid movement, Fly creates a meaningful overview of the underlying content.



The three tightly knit themes, which define what we refer to as an Organic User Interface (OUI):

1. Input Equals Output: Where the display is the input device. The developments of flexible display technologies will result in computer displays that are curved, flexible, or any other form, printed on couches, clothing, credit cards, or paper. How will we interact with displays that come in any shape imaginable? What new interaction principles and visual designs becomepossible when curved computers are a reality? One thing is clear: current point-and-click inter- faces designed for fixed planar coordinate systems, and controlled via some separate special-purpose input device like a mouse or a joystick, will not be adequate. Rather,input in this brave new world of computing will depend on multi-touch gestures and 3D-surface deformations that are performed directly on and with the display surface itself. In future interfaces, input and output design spaces are thus merged: the input device is the output device

Figure . D20 is a concept of multifaceted handheld display device, shaped as a regular icosahedron. The user interacts with it by rotatingit and touching its faces [5]. The visual interface is structured totake advantage of the device shape.


2. Function Equals Form: Where the display can take on any shape. Today’s planar, rectangular displays,such as LCD panels, will eventually become secondary when any object, from a credit card to a building, no matter how large, complex, dynamic or flexible will be wrapped with high resolution, full-color, interactive graphics. Several pioneering projects are already exploring this future, such as the D20 concept that proposed an interface for an icosohedral display [5] (see the above fig). One important observation that emerges from such experimentation is that the form of the display equals its function. In other words , designers should tightly coordinate the physical shape of the display with the functionality that its graphics afford.

3. Form Follows Flow: Where displays can change their shape. In the foreseeable future, the physical shape of computing devices will no longer necessarily be static. On the one hand, we will be able to bend, twist, pull, and tear apart digital devices just like a piece of paper or plastic. We will be able to fold displays like origami, allowing the construction of complex 3D structures with continuous display surfaces. On the other hand, augmented with new actuating devices and materials, future computing devices will be able to actively alter their shape. Form will be able to follow the flow of user interactions when the display, or entire device, is able to dynamically reconfigure, move, or transform itself to reflect data in physical shapes. The 3D physical shape itself will be a form of display, and its kinetic motion will become an important variable in future interactions

These three general directions together comprise what we refer to in this section as Organic User Interfaces: User interfaces with non-planar displays that may actively or passively change shape via analog physical inputs. We chose the term “organic” not only because of the technologies that underpin some of themost important developments in this area, that is, organic electronics, but also because of the inspiration provided by millions of organic shapes that we can observe in nature, forms of amazing variety, forms that are often transformable and flexible, naturally adaptable and evolvable, while extremely resilient and reliable at the same time. We see the future of computing flourishing with thousands of shapes of computing devices that will be as scalable, flexible, and transformable as organic life itself. We should note that the OUI vision is strongly influenced by highly related areas of user interface research, most notably Ubiquitous and Context-aware Computing, Augmented Reality, Tangible User Interfaces, and Multi-touch Input. . Naturally, OUIs incorporate some of the most important concepts that have emerged in theprevious decade of HCI, in particular embodied interaction, haptic, robotic, and physical interfaces, computer vision, the merging of digital and physical environments, and others. At the same time, OUIs extend and develop those concepts by placing them in a framework where our environment is not only embedded with billions of tiny networked computers, but where that environment is the interface, physically and virtually reactive, malleable, and adaptable to the needs of the user.


This diagram shows how OUI interaction styles might eventually relate to those found in traditional GUIs. In OUIs, simple pointing will be supplanted by multi-touch manipulations. Although menus will still serve a purpose, many functions may be triggered through manipulations of shape. OUIs will take the initiative in user dialogue through active shape-changing behaviors. Finally, OUIs’ superior multitasking abilities will be based on the use of multiple displays with different shapes for different purposes. These will appear in the foreground when picked up or rolled out, and they will be put away when no longer needed.

Designing Kinetic Interactions for Organic User Interfaces

We are surrounded by a sea of motion: everything around us is in a state of continuous movement. We experience numerous and varied kinds of motions: voluntarily motions of our own body as we walk, passive motion induced by natural forces, such as the rotation of windmill blades in the wind or the fall of a leaf from a tree due to the force of gravity; physical transformations such as the growth of a flower or the inflation of balloon, and the mechanical motion of the machines and mechanisms that populate our living spaces.

Kinetic interaction design forms part of the larger framework of Organic User Interfaces (OUI) that is discussed in this special issue: interfaces that can have any shape or form . We define Kinetic Organic Interfaces (KOIs) as organic user interfaces that employ physical kinetic motion to embody and communicate information to people. Shape-changing inherently involves some form of motion since any body transformation can be represented as motion of its parts. Thus kinetic interaction and kinetic design are key components of the OUI concept. With KOIs, the entire real world, rather then a small computer screen, becomes the design environment for future interaction designers.