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Mode Selection Techniques for Pen Input Systems

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1 Mode Selection Techniques for Pen Input Systems Keith Deming and Edward Lank Computer Science Department San Francisco State University 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94132 [email protected], [email protected] ABSTRACT In this paper we introduce a variation on pen-input systems that uses pen orientation to enter selection mode. We compare the use of pen orientation for mode selection to a system which uses the Inferred-Mode protocol as described by Saund and Lank [7]. Our goals are better understand how users in general expect and prefer to interact with pen input systems and how user performance is altered through the selective use of intelligence in pen interfaces. Author Keywords Pen interaction, stylus orientation, mode, Inferred Mode, sketch, DWIM. ACM Classification Keywords H5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI): Miscellaneous. INTRODUCTION While pen-based interaction offers a number of advantages over traditional keyboard and mouse interfaces in the areas or problem solving and data entry, it also currently suffers from some significant drawbacks. Authors have highlighted the advantages of pen-based interaction with a computer for domains as diverse as problem solving, note taking, sketching, and mobile data entry. The typical advantages noted by authors include: • The ability to input data without requiring a desk on which to set up and carefully type information. • The informal nature of the information entered, thus enabling discovery tasks. • The ability to enter diagrammatic data more rapidly. Unfortunately, while pen interaction continues to be advocated, its adoption has not been particularly smooth. We hypothesize that one reason for this failure of adoption is a result of the typical failures of user interfaces, namely the need to manipulate both the state of the program and the information content of the program [5]. Researchers have noted that even light-weight constraints on users serve to distract users from their primary task and force them [1]. This is a particular impediment to the usability of pen-based computer interfaces, where users expect the ease of use of pen and paper interfaces, but the computer rarely delivers. Recently, Saund and Lank introduced the inferred mode protocol in an attempt to alleviate the mode problem in pen-based interfaces [7]. Their hypothesis was that mode-based interaction was one stumbling block in the adoption of pen-based interfaces, or, more specifically, that mode errors were a common occurrence that distracted the user from their primary task and demanded, from the user, that attention be allocated to the user interface. However, in Saund and Lank’s work, little validation was performed. In this paper, we describe our work in validating the inferred mode protocol. We have designed a sketching application using the Microsoft Tablet PC SDK that replicates the behavior of the InkScribe system [7], and a Tablet PC interface that uses stylus orientation as a tactile mode cue for users. In this paper, we describe the testing of these interfaces with the goal of understanding both the attraction and pitfalls of DWIM-based interaction for pen interfaces. This paper is organized as follows. We first outline some related work in tactile or quasi-mode interfaces. We also describe the inferred mode protocol as outlined by Saund and Lank. Next, we describe our sketch applications. We then describe a user trial which evaluates both speed of input and user satisfaction with both the inferred mode protocol and stylus orientation as techniques for mode selection. Finally, we describe our on-going work to understand the use of intelligence in pen-based interaction. BACKGROUND One challenge faced by pen-computer interfaces for drawing applications is the need to overload the limited input modality of the electronic stylus to provide both the ability to manipulate the content in a sketch and the ability to interact with user interface to control the interpretation of any gesture preformed by the user. One example of this is the need to provide both the ability to draw and to edit in2 interfaces. To overload the limited input modality of a typical stylus, interface designers have resorted to a variety of techniques including pressing a button on the barrel of the stylus, holding the stylus stationary while pressing it against the display for a time-out period, or pressing a button in the toolbar. Saund and Lank note problems with these interaction techniques [7]. Several alternatives have been explored by researchers to overcome the drawbacks of software modes in user interfaces, including clear depiction of mode [6], gesture-based interaction [2], or tactile feedback [3, 4]. Our interest is in comparing the use of tactile feedback, specifically quasi-modes with DWIM-based interaction, specifically the Inferred Mode Protocol [7] to determine how effective each interaction method is in simple sketching interfaces and to begin to understand the advantages and pitfalls of computational intelligence in pen interaction. Tactile feedback has been used to control selection mode in pen interfaces, specifically in the Flatland system [4]. In this system, designed to run on a touch sensitive SmartBoard marketed by Smart Technologies, a button on the electronic pen tray was used to switch from drawing mode (when not pressed) to selection mode (when pressed). As well, most stylus systems come with a double ended stylus where one end is used to mark and the other to erase. Figure 1: The reasoning diagram for the Inferred Mode Protocol. In all the above systems, users control the software mode, either by switching modes or by holding the software in some quasi-mode. In contrast, Saund and Lank propose the use of computational analysis to determine the most likely interpretation of a user’s action, in other words, a Do what I mean, or DWIM, interface [5]. The system performs an action if the appropriate action can be determined unambiguously. If not, the system resorts to the


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