Fluid Interaction for High Resolution Wall-size Displays

François Guimbretière. Stanford Computer Science

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University June 1, 2001

As computers become more ubiquitous, direct interaction with wall-size, high resolution displays will become commonplace. The familiar desktop computer interface is ill-suited to the affordances of these screens such as size, positioning, pen or finger as the primary input device. Current Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) do not take into account the cost of reaching for a far-away menu bar and they rely heavily on the keyboard for rapid interactions. GUIs are extremely powerful, but their interaction style contrasts sharply with the casual interaction style provided by traditional wall-size displays such as whiteboards and pin-boards.

This research explores how to bridge the gap between the power provided by current desktop computer interfaces and the fluid use of whiteboards and pin-boards. Observing fluid expert interactions in our everyday life, such as driving a car or playing a violin, we have designed, and built a fluid interaction framework which encourages gesture memory, reduces the need for dialog with the user, and provides a scoping mechanism for modes. Together, these features progressively make the cognitive load of using the interface disappear. The user is now free to focus on other tasks the same way one can drive a car while conversing with a passenger.

To validate our design, we built the Stanford Interactive Mural, a 9 Mpixel whiteboard-size screen, evaluated the performance of our proposed menu system FlowMenu (preliminary results will be discussed), and implemented two applications using our framework. The Geometer's Workbench allows a teacher and a student to explore differential geometry; PostBrainstorm is a brainstorm tool that lets users gather and organize sketches, snapshots of physical documents and a variety of digital documents on the Interactive Mural. PostBrainstorm is currently being tested in brainstorming sessions by professional designers. It demonstrates the feasibility of fluid, transparent interactions for complex, real life applications.

François Guimbretière is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford.

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