Researchers from the University of Toronto
are proposing to add a new dimension to the clickable graphics that appear
on computer screens: pressure.
The researchers' pressure widgets scheme takes advantage of pressure-sensitive
input devices like tablets that sense not only the position of a pointing
device, but also tilt and pressure to give computer interface elements,
or widgets, new abilities.
The scheme offers a way to add pressure-based functionality to
software using existing tablet input devices, and widens the potential
functionality of devices that use a stylus as its main or only mode of
input, according to the researchers. Today only a handful of graphics
applications use pressure-based input.
In tests of pressure widgets that allowed test subjects to control
a cursor along a vertical line, the researchers found that people are
able to use as many as six different levels of pressure for discrete selection
tasks, but that pressure is only useful if there is also continuous visual
The researchers' have also designed pressure widgets for controlling,
navigating and annotating digital video.
The researchers are exploring ways to use pressure widgets for
two types of tasks: discrete selection, like choosing a color from a palette,
and continuous parameters, like opacity.
The pressure widgets scheme could be implemented immediately on
devices capable of sensing pressure, like tablet computers, according
to the researchers. The researchers presented in the work at the Association
of Computing Machinery (ACM) Computer-Human and Interaction (CHI) 2004
conference in Vienna, Austria, April 24 to 29.
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