Proposal to Present a Demonstration of Interstacks

CHI 99
14 September 1998

MAYA Design Group
2100 Wharton Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Tel: 412.488.2900
Fax: 412.488.2940

Why a Demonstration?

By its very nature, Interstacks cannot be presented in a static form, such as through a published paper.  That is because it is a highly dynamic prototype whose functions occur in a physical realm.  Because there is nothing quite like Interstacks to compare it to, it has proven very difficult to describe, but very easy to demo.

We intend to demonstrate the highly intuitive direct-manipulation environment that makes up the interface to Interstacks.  Further, our demonstration will consist of plugging together a diverse set of Interstacks modules and showing the audience how to use this development environment to "script" complex sets of behaviors among a diverse set of external devices found in the average home.  Our realistic demonstration will include the integration of home security, home theatre, and telephone using Interstacks as the hardware "glue" among different technologies.

Relevance to the HCI Community

Interstacks is a modular hardware system that empowers people with limited technical skills to integrate bits of specialized hardware in order to automate and control the flow of information among diverse electronic devices.

The work began with the question, How could the notions of component architectures and end-user scripting be reinterpreted in the domain of hardware devices?  Just as HyperCard lets power users (those with conceptual knowledge, but a lack of detailed technical skills) string together components without having to worry about type coercion and hash tables, users of Interstacks can string together bits of specialized hardware without having to worry about such things as fan outs and despiking capacitors.

In summary, Interstacks is a powerful and novel way to interconnect and automate the proliferating number of electronic devices with embedded microprocessors. It gives both systems integrators and consumers an intuitive, easy way to assemble unique devices to meet specific needs.

Commercial Status of the Technology

The technology is currently a prototype. MAYA Design has been negotiating with several consumer electronics companies about either licensing the technology or selling it.


Peter Lucas is the president and CEO of MAYA Design Group.  He led the conception and design of the Interstacks project.


We will require two video projectors, one of which will be driven by a PC.  The other one will be fed by a video camera focussed on the Interstacks modules on the presenter's table. We will also need to connect an audio feed from one of the modules to the room's sound system.
MAYA Design Group, Inc. MAYA-98026P