Crossing-based interfaces

21 Jul 2005 - 7:38am
9 years ago
8 replies
1174 reads
Diego Moya
2005

There's a recent interaction technique called Fold'n'drop for
accessing hidden windows without the use of the click button:

http://liihs.irit.fr/dragice/foldndrop/

The main interest in this technique is that's an application of an
abstract principle that could be applied elsewhere: the "crossing the
t's" manipulation technique. It's a new interface idiom to add to the
GUI repertory.

The author's of the fold'n'drop explain the general principles of this
technique - called the "Law of crossing":

http://www.almaden.ibm.com/u/zhai/topics/LawsOfAction.htm

There's also the related "Law of Steering", moving the cursor through
a path without touching the borders - an example of this would be
trying to move the cursor from a menu to an unfolding submenu.

These authors have studied these processes in quantitative way,
inspired by the famous Fitt's Law that describes and measures
point'n'click behavior. It seems that these three "Laws of Action"
will be a valuable tool for researching user interfaces in a
scientific way, and probably will be the basis for new interaction
techniques like this fold'n'drop.

I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less interface,
entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
tablet devices. Give it a try:

http://www.dontclick.it/

Have you seen other examples of crossing and steering interfaces?
(Playstation's Eyetoy comes to mind).

Comments

21 Jul 2005 - 7:50am
Todd Warfel
2003

That's an interesting approach.

In OS X, a similar action is accomplished through a slightly
different method. When windows are stacked on top of each other,
dragging an item on top of a window that is underneath brings it
forward.

One advantage I see to this "Fold 'n Drop" model is that if the
windows are all the same size and stacked directly on top of each
other (not tiled), then this would let you get at windows underneath
easier than the current implementation in OS X. Now, the likelihood
that a user will have several windows, all the exact same size, all
directly on top of each other is pretty unlikely (statistically - not
gonna happen), which means that in theory this is great, in reality,
it's probably not going to provide much value over the current OS X
implementation.

However, there is a cool factor, which is a pay off.

How is this accomplished currently in Win?

On Jul 21, 2005, at 8:38 AM, Diego Moya wrote:

> There's a recent interaction technique called Fold'n'drop for
> accessing hidden windows without the use of the click button:

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | making products & services easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: twarfel at mac.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
Problems are just opportunities for success.

21 Jul 2005 - 8:20am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jul 21, 2005, at 8:38 AM, Diego Moya wrote:

> I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less interface,
> entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
> interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
> tablet devices. Give it a try:
>
> http://www.dontclick.it/

Okay, so I was trying this thing out... very interesting concept,
very Minority Report inspired (gestural interface), but there are
several critical flaws.

1. The interface jumps around a lot, which makes targeting extremely
difficult. Watching my mouse, I was moving it around the screen a lot
to "chase" interface elements and interact with the system.

2. Traction. Users are used to clicking to execute selections. With
this interface, if I click, I get a punishing "oops!" screen, and
then I'm directed back to the first screen again, not where I was
before. Annoying.

3. Loss of data. When I tried to send the people behind this site a
very complementary email, telling them congrats for pushing the
status quo, that they have a great concept, but with the following
suggestions, it could really work (citing some key usability issues),
I exceeded the limit for text entry, apparently (there was no limit
listed), and tried to click and backspace to remove some text... drum
roll please, I got that punishing "oops!" screen, my email entry was
entirely lost, and I was directed back to the very beginning of the
flash movie.

Needless to say, my second email was not as nice. I was rather pissed
about the whole thing. I took valuable time out of my schedule for
them and was punished for it. Bad. Very, very bad.

Now, this could be headed in a good direction for something like
Minority Report, where pushing buttons is rather difficult to detect,
or implement properly, when there is no plane of resistance. So, if I
have a hologram interface, it's rather difficult to detect whether or
not I'm "clicking" on an interface element. If my hand moves forward
in space, did I mean to click, or am I just not being "careful"? So,
some of the concepts here in this interface (wiping over a button,
circling a button) would work great to address that.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | making products & services easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: twarfel at mac.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
Problems are just opportunities for success.

22 Jul 2005 - 2:25pm
Eugene Chen
2004

> > I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less
> interface,
> > entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
> > interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
> > tablet devices. Give it a try:
> >
> > http://www.dontclick.it/

Wow. I felt very intimately connected with the information space. Yes, it
was very sensitive, but to me that seemed to be a good thing. Like playing
an instrument. More engaged, more intimate. Can't doze off...

- Eugene

Eugene Chen | User Experience Design, Stratey, and Usability

22 Jul 2005 - 11:54pm
Richard Czerwonka
2005

> > > I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less
> > interface,
> > > entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
> > > interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
> > > tablet devices. Give it a try:
> > >
> > > http://www.dontclick.it/
>
>
> Wow. I felt very intimately connected with the information space. Yes,
> it was very sensitive, but to me that seemed to be a good thing. Like
> playing an instrument. More engaged, more intimate. Can't doze off...
>
> - Eugene

I found this incredibly distracting. I'm sure some people will find this easy to use in
practice, but I'm not sure who. Maybe a test pilot or an astronaut. There was just too
much going on. You move the mouse a little and things start flashing all over the place.
You certainly don't want to use this if you are suffering from epilepsy.

=================
Richard Czerwonka,
Delphi Programmer
ENT Technologies
Mob: 0412 104 042
=================

23 Jul 2005 - 7:59am
Mike Beltzner
2004

> Wow. I felt very intimately connected with the information space. Yes, it
> was very sensitive, but to me that seemed to be a good thing. Like playing
> an instrument. More engaged, more intimate. Can't doze off...

That's true, I suppose, but on the flip side, I felt like the
information space was doing too much and assuming too much from my
gestures. I tend to use my mouse cursor as a focal point, and I found
it very hard to get used to the idea of not hovering over what I was
reading for fear of activating something.

IMO crossing interfaces are interesting, but on-hover-activation
interfaces should really only be used in cases where the user is
trying to move around a single information space to find data, not
neccessarily to interact with it.

22 Jul 2005 - 5:18pm
Dana Smith
2005

Hello all, I'm new to this discussion group; what a great topic to
start off with!

>
>> I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less interface,
>> entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
>> interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
>> tablet devices. Give it a try:
>>
>> http://www.dontclick.it/

This is really interesting - In a lot of ways, it mirrors the physical
way we navigate our world much more successfully than traditional
point-and-click. For instance, when we want to read a sign or sit in a
chair, we simply walk up to it; there is no arbitrary barrier to the
information or action.

There seems to be a huge potential for this technique in
repetitive-task applications; I'd love to see how much faster it would
make formatting documents or browsing shopping websites.

Imagine the hilarity that would ensue while using this type of
interface on a moving train or as the result of a curious house-pet
investigating a computer mouse!

Error-prevention definitely needs some work though. When a pop-up
asked if I liked using the demo, I hovered over Yes while I was
thinking, and the pop-up immediately disappeared, registering my answer
- luck them, I suppose, since they got me before I changed my mind.
Also, there is little differentiation between the text elements that
are active and inactive, so use is more trial-and-error than one might
prefer.

-Dana

Dana Smith
Interaction & Industrial Design

www.danasmithdesigns.com
dana at danasmithdesigns.com
AIM - danasmithdesigns

On Jul 21, 2005, at 9:20 AM, Todd Warfel wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> On Jul 21, 2005, at 8:38 AM, Diego Moya wrote:
>
>> I've found this curious experiment that shows a click-less interface,
>> entirely based on pointing, crossing and steering. It has some
>> interesting techniques that could be applied to eye-tracking and
>> tablet devices. Give it a try:
>>
>> http://www.dontclick.it/
>
> Okay, so I was trying this thing out... very interesting concept, very
> Minority Report inspired (gestural interface), but there are several
> critical flaws.
>
> 1. The interface jumps around a lot, which makes targeting extremely
> difficult. Watching my mouse, I was moving it around the screen a lot
> to "chase" interface elements and interact with the system.
>
> 2. Traction. Users are used to clicking to execute selections. With
> this interface, if I click, I get a punishing "oops!" screen, and then
> I'm directed back to the first screen again, not where I was before.
> Annoying.
>
> 3. Loss of data. When I tried to send the people behind this site a
> very complementary email, telling them congrats for pushing the status
> quo, that they have a great concept, but with the following
> suggestions, it could really work (citing some key usability issues),
> I exceeded the limit for text entry, apparently (there was no limit
> listed), and tried to click and backspace to remove some text... drum
> roll please, I got that punishing "oops!" screen, my email entry was
> entirely lost, and I was directed back to the very beginning of the
> flash movie.
>
> Needless to say, my second email was not as nice. I was rather pissed
> about the whole thing. I took valuable time out of my schedule for
> them and was punished for it. Bad. Very, very bad.
>
> Now, this could be headed in a good direction for something like
> Minority Report, where pushing buttons is rather difficult to detect,
> or implement properly, when there is no plane of resistance. So, if I
> have a hologram interface, it's rather difficult to detect whether or
> not I'm "clicking" on an interface element. If my hand moves forward
> in space, did I mean to click, or am I just not being "careful"? So,
> some of the concepts here in this interface (wiping over a button,
> circling a button) would work great to address that.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | making products & services easier to use
> --------------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (607) 339-9640
> Email: twarfel at mac.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> --------------------------------------
> Problems are just opportunities for success.
>
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>

23 Jul 2005 - 11:22am
Vassili Bykov
2005

Mike Beltzner wrote:
>
> IMO crossing interfaces are interesting, but on-hover-activation
> interfaces should really only be used in cases where the user is
> trying to move around a single information space to find data, not
> neccessarily to interact with it.

Also note that crossing interaction isn't entirely new: tooltips or
hover help used in some dialog boxes (with an instructional text area
showing the description of the control the mouse is over) are also in
fact navigational tools in a simple information space.

I think the experiment shows the value of distinct levels of interaction
"intensity". When we want to sit in a chair, we just walk up--but to
move a chair, we need to grab it!

23 Jul 2005 - 11:40am
John Vaughan - ...
2004

>> http://www.dontclick.it/
>
> Okay, so I was trying this thing out... very interesting concept, very
> Minority Report inspired (gestural interface), but there are several
> critical flaws.
>
> 1. The interface jumps around a lot, which makes targeting extremely
> difficult.
> 2. Traction. Users are used to clicking to execute selections. With this
> interface, if I click, I get a punishing "oops!" screen,
>
> 3. Loss of data.

Agree w/ Todd Warfel's analysis - even had much the same disappointing
experience whilst trying to send them a message.

To underscore point #2: Traction is not just what we're used to in the
computer world - It's what we've been doing for millenia, long before
computers. A definitive "point and/or tap" (i.e. click) are globally
recognized and are also very natural gesture for indicating "that one".

A gestural interface that enhances our natural tendencies is cool, but it
shouldn't punish us for doing what comes naturally.

PS I've always felt that the Minority Report gestural interface would
really "work" only if there is some sort of eye-tracking + facial
pattern-recognition that (like us) recognizes when the person who's looking
at us has an AHA! moment. Otherwise it's just choreographed hand-waving.
Indicative, but rarely definitive.

Facial expressions & body language would help to "value" the Minority Report
info beyond mere 3-D navigation, just as we do in our F2F conversations:
Raised eyebows, scowl and flick of the head, a piercing look, the quizzical
tilting of the head. Save this for further reference. Ignore that totally.
This is intriguing - Give me more.

John

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