Deformable interfaces are emerging in HCI and prototypes show potential for non-rigid interactions. Previous reviews looked at deformation as material property of shape-changing interfaces and concentrated on output. As such, deformable input remains under-discussed. We distinguish deformable interfaces from shape-changing interfaces to concentrate on input. We initially surveyed 131 papers (from 1994 to 2018) published on deformable interfaces and review their key design elements (e.g., shape, material) based on how they support input. Our survey shows that deformable input is often used to augment or replace rigid input, particularly on elastic and flexible displays. However, when interactions are guided by shapes and materials, deformable input is used for new HCI paradigms, where gestures are potentially endless and become analogy to sculpting and sounds, metaphor to non-verbal communication, and expressive controls are enhanced. Our review provides designers and practitioners with a baseline for designing deformable interfaces and deformable input methodically. We conclude by identifying research goals to tackle in future work with deformable interfaces.


Alberto Boem and Giovanni Maria Troiano. 2019. Non-Rigid HCI: A Review of Deformable Interfaces and Input. In Proceedings of the 2019 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS ’19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 885-906. DOI:  [pdf]

Alberto Boem, Giovanni Maria Troiano, Giacomo Lepri, Victor Zappi. 2020. Non-Rigid Musical Interfaces: Exploring Practices, Takes and Future Perspective. In Proc. of NIME 2020. [pdf]