In this project, we designed a tangible music controller named Topplr, which is designed to effortlessly allow the user to perform interactions with music controls while working behind the computer.
As working behind a computer often requires much of attention (e.g. writing reports, reading papers, etc.), the intention of this interface was to interact with music without being distracted from the work-related task itself. According to the divided attention theory (Kahneman, 1973), attention can be described as a finite amount of mental resources, divided over sensorial, bodily, and/or cognitive activities. Activities that require many mental resources are often performed in the center of attention, while less demanding tasks can be performed in the periphery of attention.
The aim for the design of Topplr was to design interactions that would require a minimal amount of mental resources, so they could be performed in the periphery of attention. Thus, keeping most mental resources available for the working task at hand to be performed in the center of attention.