Trackpoint II: Making a better mouse

Ted Selker, IBM Almaden Research

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University May 5, 1993


PC Week called IBM's TrackPointII "the best pointing device we have seen yet". This in-keyboard pointing device comes out of a research program with a major concern to finger dexterity and typing ergonomics constraints. Our Behavioral research demonstrates that by matching perceptual-motor abilities of a user to the task algorithms can improve human pointing performance. TrackPointII provides smooth control in the popular mixed type-and-point interfaces, without taking hands away from typing position. The time loss and distraction of reaching for an extra device is eliminated. The notebook is GUI-ready, with nothing extra to carry about and find space for. Typing, pointing, selecting and dragging all become parts of a single process using a single device, the TrackPoint II Keyboard. This talk will focus on the research methods and milestones in developing TrackPointII: The ways in which industrial design, human factors and perceptual psychology interact in this work will be augmented by a story in which new research goals and achievements came with the goal of product impact.


Ted Selker is currently Manager of User System Ergonomics Research (USER) at IBM Almaden Research Center. His work focuses on developing new paradigms for using computers: The COACH research system demonstrates the use of adaptive user models in help/tutoring environments. The VREP project is developing a "linguistics" for the use of graphic techniques in computer interfaces. Trackpoint II is an integrated pointing device with performance advantages derived from a special behavioral/motor match algorithm. Previously, Dr. Selker has conducted research at Xerox PARC, Atari, and the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University.


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