A tangible user interface (TUI) is a user interface in which a person interacts with digital information through the physical environment. The initial name was Graspable User Interface, which is no longer used. The purpose of TUI development is to empower collaboration, learning, and design by giving physical forms to digital information, thus taking advantage of the human ability to grasp and manipulate physical objects and materials.
One of the pioneers in tangible user interfaces is Hiroshi Ishii, a professor at the MIT who heads the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab. His particular vision for tangible UIs, called Tangible Bits, is to give physical form to digital information, making bits directly manipulable and perceptible. Tangible bits pursues the seamless coupling between physical objects and virtual data.