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Input Devices Handhelds Software Hardware

Making Fingers Work With Touch Screens 111

An anonymous reader writes "A paper was recently published about Shift at the Computer Human Interaction Conference earlier this month. The authors (Daniel Vogel, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and Patrick Baudisch, a research scientist at Microsoft Research) developed the technology to solve several problems with mobile-phone touch screens. Most such screens are designed to be operated with a stylus; when touched with a finger the UI doesn't work so well. They also created a short video with a demonstration of how Shift works. Shift builds on an existing technology known as Offset Cursor, which displays a cursor just above the spot a user touches on the screen. That allows a user to place their finger below the item they wish to choose so that they can see the item, rather than hiding it with their finger."
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Making Fingers Work With Touch Screens

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  • by morari ( 1080535 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:46AM (#19161789) Journal
    Then you'll be able to use your stylus-like fingernails, thus solving any such problems! :)
  • Counterintuitive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MankyD ( 567984 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:48AM (#19161823) Homepage
    So if I see a button the screen, I don't press the button; I press below the button. That seems rather counterintuitive, no? And how do I push stuff at the bottom of the screen?
  • It'll throw me off (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:56AM (#19161983)
    Humans didn't grow up pressing below what they want. When I go to dial my desk phone I don't press just below the buttons. It's assumed in my brain that I will be covering up what I want. The problem I see is the size of a stylus vs size of a finger. If you cram buttons close together my finger won't be able to resolve which one I'm actually trying to press. But the same is true of real buttons (Simpsons and the dialing wand).

    Not that we can't learn. Just as spear fishers learned to take into account the refractive index of water when fishing. I'm sure it took a while, but after the learning period I'm sure it's second nature to aim X below what I want to kill.

    I'm interested in seeing how Apple solved this problem with the iPhone
  • Re:FingLonger (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andphi ( 899406 ) <phillipsam@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:07AM (#19162207) Journal
    But he never actually invented it. He merely wondered what might happen if he invented it.
  • by kat_skan ( 5219 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:08PM (#19163485)

    I think if I was going to do it, I'd make the buttons larger and align the label along the top. Your thumb wouldn't obscure the label, and you'd still be pressing the button instead of someplace vaguely in the vicinity of the button.

    For widgets that are more information-dense--say a list of contacts in your address book--split the list into two columns and make the list items twice as tall.

  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:59PM (#19164441) Homepage

    The article says that lifting your finger from the screen selects the item (even more counter-intuitive in my opinion).

    Thats not counter-intuitive, thats exactly how basically *every* GUI today works. When you press a button the action takes place not on mouse-button-down event, but on mouse-button-up. Shift uses the time in between down and up to present the user with a little zoomed view of what is under his finger so that he can fine tune his selection. Looks pretty intuitive and easy to understand for me. See the video [patrickbaudisch.com].

    My only problem with this is that it seems to be designed to fix issues that you might not have in the first place when the GUI would be properly designed to fit the device.

  • This is sad. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viewtouch ( 1479 ) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:23PM (#19164883) Homepage Journal
    The application for a patent on this saddens me. I have had thousands of conversations in the past 25 years during which I have freely discussed all kinds of touchscreen GUI issues. Some of the conversations were about touchscreen GUI effects that I had created and some of them were about effects that would obviously make the operation of the touchscreen easier.

    I had many conversations over the years dealing with this specific issue, of using the magnifying glass effect on the GUI to display the area occluded by the finger. I didn't implement this effect because I have not been doing much work on displays with a diagonal measurement of 2 to 3 inches, but it is an effect that was often the subject of conversations I've had with many people and even in some lectures I've given.

    I'm sad to see that somebody has now decided to patent something that has been a common topic of touchscreen GUI conversations for many years. The patent can hardly be considered non-obvious. It could well be that the two people involved here, one a student, one a microsoft employee, are simply ignorant of the basic design issues of graphical touchscreen GUI's.

    I would go so far as to say that this patent application is morally reprehensible, right up there in league with patents on seeds that have been around since the dawn of time.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!