Supporting casual interactions between board games on public tabletop displays and mobile devices

Florian Echtler, Simon Nestler, Andreas Dippon, Gudrun Klinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


As more interactive surfaces enter public life, casual interactions from passersby are bound to increase. Most of these users can be expected to carry a mobile phone or PDA, which nowadays offers significant computing capabilities of its own. This offers new possibilities for interaction between these users' private displays and large public ones. In this paper, we present a system that supports such casual interactions. We first explore a method to track mobile phones that are placed on a horizontal interactive surface by examining the shadows which are cast on the surface. This approach detects the presence of a mobile device, as opposed to any other opaque object, through the signal strength emitted by the built-in Bluetooth transceiver without requiring any modifications to the devices' software or hardware. We then go on to investigate interaction between a Sudoku game running in parallel on the public display and on mobile devices carried by passing users. Mobile users can join a running game by placing their devices on a designated area. The only requirement is that the device is in discoverable Bluetooth mode. After a specific device has been recognized, a client software is sent to the device which then enables the user to interact with the running game. Finally, we explore the results of a study which we conducted to determine the effectiveness and intrusiveness of interactions between users on the tabletop and users with mobile devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
JournalPersonal and Ubiquitous Computing
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009


  • Casual entertainment
  • Interactive surface
  • Mobile devices


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