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A Proxemity-Based Media Player for a Surface

This is a completed project.


In the everyday world, much of what we do is dictated by how we interpret spatial relationships. This is called proxemics. What is surprising is how little spatial relationships are used in interaction design, i.e., in terms of mediating people’s interactions with surrounding digital devices such as digital surfaces, mobile phones, and computers. Our interest is in proxemic interaction, which imagines a world of devices that has fine-grained knowledge of nearby people and other devices (including surfaces) – how they move into range, their precise distance, and even their orientation – and how such knowledge can be exploited to design interaction techniques. We are also interested in how we use proxemic information to regulate implicit and explicit interaction technique and how they can be triggered by continuous movement, or by movement in and out of discrete proxemic regions. We explore these concepts with the design of an interactive vertical display surface that recognizes the proximity of surrounding people, digital devices, and non-digital artefacts – all in relation to the surface but also the surrounding environment.

Our example application is an interactive media player on a surface that implicitly reacts to the approach and orientation of people and their personal devices, and that tailors explicit interaction methods to fit.


Images and Videos





Demos and Software Components

A Proximity and Orientation Aware Video Playback Application, built atop the proximity toolkit, controls video playback on a large screen and reacts accordingly to a number of implicit actions. It shows different views on video data depending on the user’s presence and proximity. It allows one to select and browse by touching or by pointing from a distance with a mobile phone.Sitting down and looking at the screen automatically enables video playback and other people that enter the room will be provided with additional information about the playing video. The system can recognize user actions, like making a call or looking away and pause the playback. For more information and a download link, please click here


iCORE – NSERCSMART Technologies – Alberta Innovates Technology Futures





  • Saul Greenberg (Supervisor)
  • Nicolai Marquardt (PhD Student)
  • Till Ballendat (Research Intern)