Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer program lets users learn keyboard shortcuts with minimal effort

30.09.2013
A computer scientist from Saarbrucken has developed a software which assists users in identifying and learning shortcuts so that they can become as fast as expert users. This new interface mechanism is easy to integrate in programs using a toolbar, a menu or ribbons as a graphical user interface.

If somebody wants to shift text elements within a Word document from one position to another, he usually uses the mouse. This procedure is rather cumbersome for the user, since he first needs to click and highlight the text element before he can put it at the appropriate place.

The user could avoid such complications by using a few shortcut keys, so-called hotkeys, instead. Certain hotkeys correspond to mouse clicks regarding the actions they perform. Nevertheless, users frequently do not know enough keyboard shortcuts to work with them efficiently, or are not aware of the available combinations.

Gilles Bailly, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the Cluster of Excellence at Saarland University, wants to change that situation. By making the shortcuts readily accessible to everybody, he wants to increase the use of hotkeys among less-experienced users and help them maximize expert performance by using consistent shortcuts. To accomplish this, Bailly developed a special interface mechanism in collaboration with other researchers from several universities. It enables hotkey browsing, supports physical rehearsal and assures rapid hotkey identification.

“To see the hotkeys, the user needs to press a certain key button”, explains Sylvain Malacria from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He calls this special key the modifier. On an Apple keyboard, this function is taken by the command key; at a Windows computer, by the control key. As soon as the user has pressed the modifier, the software overlaps the icons on the screen, as for example all the symbols in a toolbar for a Word document, with shortcuts for a few seconds. Thus, the interface mechanisms shows small boxes in which every equivalent keyboard shortcut is displayed. In so doing, users who rarely use the computer are given the essential hints to apply the shortcuts until they know them by heart. The program supports them by proposing the hotkeys very quickly; they need only press the modifier key. To use the shortcuts more generally, the user frequently has to repeat the same finger moves. In this way, the user keeps remembering the key combinations. Professionals, on the other hand, can expand their shortcut knowledge and accelerate their working speed by using this mechanism, which the researchers named “ExposeHK”.

“If the user is in the middle of a workflow, he does not need to remove his hands from the keyboard and reach for the mouse. He is able to enter his commands into the computer directly”, says Bailly. To test their software, the researchers ran some studies. They asked participants to identify icons in toolbars and select them as fast as possible. To do that, the participants could either follow the instructions of a speaker, who was reading the key combinations to them, or they could use the mouse or the new software’s hotkey display. After that, the test participants had to choose which of the methods was easiest to manage. Most of the participants decided in favor of Bailly’s mechanism. The study results show that amateurs used the keyboard shortcuts four times more often after they had sampled them for a few minutes. “It’s no matter if the user forgot a shortcut. The only thing he has to do is to press the modifier again and the shortcut overview pops up”, Bailly explains.

He could observe how positively the user community responded to his software when he exhibited it at a prestigious Human-Computer Interaction research conference (ACM CHI) in Paris. “With our mechanism, we offer the user a simple and elegant solution to operate efficiently. And it is neither expensive to integrate nor to learn”, says Bailly. He is therefore confident that his mechanism will be available every conceivable application soon.

Background information on Saarbrücken’s Cluster of Excellence:

Since 2007, the Cluster of Excellence “Multimodal Computing and Interaction” at Saarland University has received major national and regional funding. Work at the MMCI Cluster includes research into strategies for organizing, understanding and searching multimodal information from audio files, photos, images, texts and videos. Researchers from Saarland University and the following institutes belong to the Cluster: the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and Center for IT-Security, Privacy and Accountability (CISPA).

Further questions can be addressed to:

Gilles Bailly
Max-Planck-Institute for Informatics
Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”
E-Mail: gbailly@mpi-inf.mpg.de
Editor:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Cluster of Excellence on “Multimodal Computing and Interaction”
Phone: +49 681 30270741
E-Mail: bolduan@mmci.uni-saarland.de

Friederike Meyer zu Tittingdorf | idw
Further information:
http://www.gillesbailly.fr/hotkeys.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1fmKX3jKxI

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Smart Manual Workstations Deliver More Flexible Production
04.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>