This work takes Norman’s classic notion of ‘cognitive engineering’ and updates it to the modern context of touch-based and tangible interfaces.

As the authors demonstrate for the particular case of a 3D object rotation task, Norman’s model still has a great deal of explanatory power for such a task and may continue to give insights into interaction methods and techniques that barely existed as research prototypes when his work was first conceived.

If indeed human beings think with their hands every bit as much (and perhaps even more so) than they do abstractly with reason, then perhaps in this era of the post-WIMP (Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointers) interface our tools for thought have come very far indeed.