Face of Jonas Vogel

Jonas Vogel

Master Thesis Student

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Master Thesis

Thesis title: “Exploring Midair Tangible Interaction over Tabletop Displays”
Supervisor: Christian Cherek
Submitted: 16.06.2020 PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry

For my master thesis, I worked on combining tangible tabletop interaction with midair interaction methods using ARKit, Apple's augmented reality framework.


Controlling a Spaceship with a Midair Tangible.Previous research has already established that users benefit from tangible interaction, for example in terms of precision and speed and because they allow eyes-free interaction. Usually, tangible interaction takes place directly on the tabletop surface, mostly because they can only be tracked when being in contact with it. We extend tangible interaction to the space above the tabletop, which allows a whole new set of interactions in 3D.

Midair tangibles, for example, can be used to explore three-dimensional data, to easily inspect and manipulate a virtual 3D object, or to select targets that are out of reach for the user. To relate the position of midair devices with the tabletop, we use the world tracking and image recognition features of current augmented reality frameworks. Based on Apple’s ARKit and iPhones used as tangibles, we implemented a reusable tracking framework which also allows the transmission of touch events between tabletop and the devices.

Our tests and preliminary studies reveal that the general performance of our system is satisfactory, but highly depends on the display of suitable, feature-rich content on the tabletop. Based on the implemented framework, we developed five applications to explore different use-cases for midair tangible interaction, of which three have been evaluated in a user study to get qualitative feedback. The results from the study identify (1) the visualisation of the newly introduced third dimension as a key challenge in such scenarios, (2) that midair devices are suitable to solve the reachability problem and (3) that they can provide user-specific content in multi-user scenarios.


Image showing three implemented applications: Controlling a spaceship, layer exploration and target selection.

Image showing three implemented applications: Controlling a spaceship, layer exploration and target selection.



CocoaHeads(.org) is an international group devoted to discussion of Apple's Cocoa Framework for programming on Mac OS X. During monthly meetings, members present on their projects and offer tutorials on various programming topics. The CocoaHeads Aachen Chapter is hosted by the Media Computing and Human-Computer Interaction Group.
For more information, check the chair's CocoaHeads page.

I contribute with the following talks to the CocoaHeads meetings:

26.03.2020 - ARKit Hands-On: Radbügel-App Canceled due to the Corona virus epidemic.
(In German): Wir bauen eine AR-App, mit der man (virtuelle) Fahrradbügel dort platzieren kann, wo man schon immer mal sein Fahrrad abschließen wollte.
Wer mitcoden möchte benötigt: Macbook mit aktuellem Xcode, iPhone ab SE / 6s, Lightning-Kabel (!), (kostenlose) Registrierung im Apple Developer Program. Zuschauen ist natürlich auch ok und möglich.



  • Jonas Vogel. Exploring Midair Tangible Interaction over Tabletop Displays. Master's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, May 2020.
    PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry


We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.