In today’s Creativity Knowledge post I’m focusing on a series of research projects from Patrick Baudisch, who is affiliated with the VIBE group in Microsoft Research and DUB in the University of Washington. Over the years Patrick and co-researchers have developed a range of innovative interaction techniques focused on enhancing people’s ability to move content around screens.
Interactive displays surfaces are getting larger – for example checkout these exciting demos of Multi-Touch and Surface (thanks to Cormac and co for the link). A usability problem is that content, such as icons, is moved around these large display surfaces using the same techniques as on desktops. We grab an icon with the mouse, we drag the icon by moving the mouse a physical distance proportional to on-screen distance, we then place the icon where we want it to go by letting go of the icon.
The desktop interaction model, which is designed for small displays, has been kludged to work on large surfaces. Imagine moving the icon with a large wall sized display: we grab the icon, we run half way across the room to drag the icon to a desired location, we let go of the icon, we catch our breath then run half way back across the room to where we started.
How would you make it easier to move content around large displays? How about when you can interact with the displays using your whole body?
Check out this interactive online flash demo where you can play with drag-and-pop. Instructions for the demo are here. Drag-and-pop is designed so when a “user starts dragging an icon towards some target icon, drag-and-pop responds by temporarily moving potential target icons towards the user’s current cursor location, thereby allowing the user to interact with these icons using comparably small hand movements”. On the drag-and-pop website you can find videos and papers explaining the interaction technique in detail, along with material explaining push-and-pop, drag-and-pick and Mountaz Hascoët’s push-and-throw. Yep all this pushing, dragging and popping is confusing! Enjoy.
On a related point: I’m regularly drawn to research around innovative interaction techniques but is there too much focus on novel interactions in interaction design research? Are we like moths to the flame of novelty? Does novelty distract from the development of deeper theories? Or does it highlight that HCI can and should also be practiced as an applied field of research?
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