Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

For Your Eyes Only: Custom Interfaces Make Computer Clicking Faster, Easier

17.07.2008
Personalized computer interfaces that adapt to each user's vision and motor abilities significantly speeds up computer tasks, especially in disabled users. The prototype system offers the first instantly customizable computer interface.

Insert your key in the ignition of a luxury car and the seat and steering wheel will automatically adjust to preprogrammed body proportions. Stroll through the rooms of Bill Gates' mansion and each room will adjust its lighting, temperature and music to accommodate your personal preference. But open any computer program and you're largely subject to a design team's ideas about button sizes, fonts and layouts.

Off-the-shelf designs are especially frustrating for the disabled, the elderly and anybody who has trouble controlling a mouse. A new approach to design, developed at the University of Washington, would put each person through a brief skills test and then generate a mathematically-based version of the user interface optimized for his or her vision and motor abilities. A paper describing the system, which for the first time offers an instantly customizable approach to user interfaces, was presented today in Chicago at a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

"Assistive technologies are built on the assumption that it's the people who have to adapt to the technology. We tried to reverse this assumption, and make the software adapt to people," said lead author Krzysztof Gajos, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. Co-authors are Dan Weld, a UW professor of computer science and engineering, and Jacob Wobbrock, an assistant professor in the UW's Information School.

Tests showed the system closed the performance gap between disabled and able-bodied users by 62 percent, and disabled users strongly preferred the automatically generated interfaces.

"This shows that automatically generating personalized interfaces really does work, and the technology is ready for prime time," Weld said.

The system, called Supple, begins with a one-time assessment of a person's mouse pointing, dragging and clicking skills. A ring of dots appears on the screen and as each dot lights up, the user must quickly click on it. The task is repeated with different-sized dots. Other prompts ask the participant to click and drag, select from a list, and click repeatedly on one spot. Participants can move the cursor using any type of device. The test takes about 20 minutes for an able-bodied person or up to 90 minutes for a person with motor disabilities.

An optimization program then calculates how long it would take the person to complete various computer tasks, and in a couple of seconds it creates the interface that maximizes that person's accuracy and speed when using a particular program.

Researchers tested the system last summer on six able-bodied people and 11 people with motor impairments. The resulting interfaces showed one size definitely did not fit all.

A man with severe cerebral palsy used his chin to control a trackball and could move the pointer quickly but spastically. Based on his skills test, Supple generated a user interface where all the targets were bigger than normal, and lists were expanded to minimize scrolling.

By contrast, a woman with muscular dystrophy who participated in the study used both hands to move a mouse. She could make very precise movements but moved the cursor very slowly and with great effort because of weak muscles. Based on her results, Supple automatically generated an interface with small buttons and a compressed layout.

"There is a temptation to think that we can come up with a universal design. But if we look at the results, the design that helps one person will actually be hurtful to a person with a different set of abilities," Gajos said.

"From an accessibility standpoint, it's always better to change the environment, rather than use specialized assistive technologies," said Kurt Johnson, a UW professor of rehabilitation medicine who coordinated the tests.

“Supple could be useful for many people with limitations in function, ranging from the elderly, to people with low vision, to people with hand tremors.”

The program could also be used to create interfaces that can adapt to different sizes of screen, for example on handheld devices.

But deploying this system would require a radically different approach to designing computer interfaces, Gajos said. He predicts the first applications are likely to be for Web-based applications. The researchers also plan to look at adapting interfaces that were designed in the traditional way into ones that Supple can use.

For more information, contact Gajos at (206) 399-9486 or kgajos@cs.washington.edu, Weld at (206) 543-9196 or weld@cs.washington.edu or Wobbrock at (206) 616-2541 or wobbrock@u.washington.edu.

Gajos | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu
http://www.uwnews.org/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht NASA CubeSat to test miniaturized weather satellite technology
10.11.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht New approach uses light instead of robots to assemble electronic components
08.11.2017 | The Optical Society

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>