Monday, February 11, 2008

Studying Circular Scrolling on TouchPads

A new way to scroll ...

"Synaptics has a new, circular scrolling gesture for TouchPads coming out soon and we in the usability group have done some evaluations of it as part of the development process. (The technology is officially called ChiralMotion™; here is some marketing literature if you're interested.) Chiral scrolling is like the circular scrolling people are familiar with from iPods and other devices, though it's a little more sophisticated in that you're not constrained to a fixed circle (and it has some other nice technical properties that I won't go into here).

We have a short "work-in-progress" paper to appear in the CHI 2008 conference proceedings that describes some of this work on evaluating the technique. We compared the new circular scrolling gesture with an existing linear scrolling gesture available with Synaptics TouchPads called "virtual scrolling," which works by scrolling when you swipe your finger within a dedicated scroll zone at the side of the TouchPad (or at the bottom for horizontal scrolling).

Here is a copy of the paper: Evaluating Touch Gestures for Scrolling on Notebook Computers (pdf). This is preliminary work has some limitations because it was small. We've since improved on the methods and are planning more, larger studies that test additional devices.

Coming up with good quantitative measures of scrolling performance is still a fairly open research problem. We used a document scrolling task, implemented in a web browser, that's similar to some previous work within the HCI community (see the paper for references). In each trial, the user scrolls from the top or bottom of a document to find a highlighted line, and we measure the time it takes, which turns out to depend linearly on the number of lines to the target.

Subjective user impressions and other qualitative measures are also important -- we used a questionnaire in addition to the timed task in this study."    (Continued via Touch Usability)    [Usability Resources]

ChiralMotion Technology for Handhelds - Usability, User Interface Design

ChiralMotion Technology for Handhelds

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