August 26 – 31 , 2012, Dagstuhl Seminar 12351

Interaction Beyond the Desktop


Alan Dix (University of Birmingham, GB)
James D. Hollan (University of California – San Diego, US)
Albrecht Schmidt (Universität Stuttgart, DE)
Jürgen Steimle (MIT – Cambridge, US)

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No official documentation available
List of Participants
Dagstuhl's Impact: Documents available


With the emergence of new hardware devices, ubiquitous wireless networks, and the increasing proliferation of computing devices in everyday life, we are entering a new era that is becoming known as post-desktop interaction. Although multiple new interaction techniques are being explored in current research in ubiquitous computing, tangible interaction, interactive surfaces and multitouch interaction, virtual and augmented reality, context-aware computing, and mobile interaction, understanding interaction beyond the desktop is still in its infancy. This is particularly complex and challenging because interaction is now situated in diverse contexts, increasingly involves exploiting the physical surroundings as well as simultaneous use of mobile computing devices, and frequently consists of multiple participants employing multiple modalities of interaction. This creates radically different requirements and research challenges than those of the desktop and the single-user graphical interface.

The aim of our Dagstuhl Seminar is to bring together leading experts and exceptionally talented junior researchers working in a diverse set of fields (computer science, psychology, cognitive science, and design) to provide the multidisciplinary perspective required to address the full complexity of this crucial topic. The seminar is not about a publication, nor about sharing your current research results. It is about taking time to get a new perspective, to get impulses for new research, to be inspired. We will create a program that ensures ample time for discussions, breakout groups, and informal exchanges, e.g. during hikes. The seminar provides a venue for:

  • Reflecting on the current state of the field, discussing evolving paradigms and techniques and integrating them into a coherent paradigm or conceptual framework to help focus research and motivate interdisciplinary interactions
  • Discussing current challenges and identifying research directions
  • Reflecting on the transformations that ubiquitous computing is creating in society
  • Reflecting on what is beyond ubicomp.

We suggest six key perspectives on interaction beyond the desktop as a basis for our discussions:

  • Interaction-Centered Perspective: What are the communalities and deeper characterizations of the novel paradigms and techniques that are currently emerging? What interaction devices, techniques, paradigms should be explored in the future?
  • Integration-Centered Perspective: What is the appropriate technological basis for integrating multiple devices in a multi-participant environment?
  • Ecology-Centered Perspective: Interaction beyond the desktop is applied in and leads to different ecologies of use than desktop computers. How do individual and collaborative practices evolve, what are the novel practices that emerge, and how do social norms change?
  • Cognition-Centered Perspective: How can our developing knowledge of distributed and embodied cognition be exploited to better understand and design post-desktop interaction?
  • User-Domain-Centered Perspective: What are promising application domains for research to focus on? What specific domains might lead to better interdisciplinary interaction, collaboration, and synergy?
  • Information-Centered Perspective: What knowledge does a computing device or device federation need about the past and the current situation? How can context information be beneficially exploited? How can privacy be preserved?

We expect the seminar to lead to the production of a book on interaction beyond the desktop and to help initiate and extend international research and develop collaborations. If successful the seminar can be a birthplace for new ideas in an area with enormous potential impact in academia, industry and everyday life.


  • Society / HCI
  • Multimedia
  • Mobile Computing
  • Ubiquitous Computing
  • Tangible Interaction


  • Interaction Techniques
  • Interactive Surfaces
  • Mobile Devices
  • Tangible Interaction
  • Smart Spaces
  • Ubiquitous Computing
  • Desktop Metaphor


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.