When the Fingers do the Talking: A Study of Group Participation with Varying Constrains to a Tabletop Interface

Authors: Paul Marshall, Eva Hornecker, Richard Morris, Nick Sheep Dalton and Yvonne Rogers

A user study is presented that investigates how different configurations of input can influence equity of participation around a tabletop interface. Groups of three worked on a design task requiring negotiation in four interface conditions that varied the number (all members can act or only one) and type (touch versus mice) of input. Our findings show that a multi-touch surface increases physical interaction equity and perceptions of dominance, but does not affect levels of verbal participation. Dominant people still continue to talk the most, while quiet ones remain quiet. Qualitative analyses further revealed how other factors can affect how participants contribute to the task. The findings are discussed in terms of how the design of the physicaltechnological set-up can affect the desired form of collaboration.