Reconfigurable ferromagnetic input devices

This project led to the development of a novel hardware device based on ferromagnetic sensing, capable of detecting the presence, position and deformation of any ferrous object placed on or near its surface. These objects can include ball bearings, magnets, iron filings, and soft malleable bladders filled with ferrofluid.

Our technology can be used to build reconfigurable input devices – where the physical form of the input device can be assembled using combinations of such ferrous objects. This allows users to rapidly construct new forms of input device, such as a trackball-style device based on a single large ball bearing, tangible mixers based on a collection of sliders and buttons with ferrous components, and multitouch malleable surfaces using a ferrofluid bladder.

This project was completed while I was interning with Stuart Taylor at Microsoft Research Cambridge.


Hook, J., Taylor, S., Butler, A., Villar, N., Izadi, S. A Reconfigurable Ferromagnetic Input Device. In Proc. of UIST'09, ACM, 51-54. Download

Taylor S., and Hook, J. FerroSynth: A Ferromagnetic Music Interface In Proc. of NIME'10, University of Technology, Sydney, 463-466. Download


Microsoft's Bag-Based Computer Interface, For Poking (Gizmodo) Read

Bendable Magnetic Interface (MIT Technology Review) Read