Opposable thumbs make tablets more useful says Microsoft Research

You're already gripping your fondleslab, so why not give the thumb something useful to do?

Microsoft Research has come up with an interesting idea – user interfaces designed specifically for thumb-plus-stylus use on tablet computers.

The company's brain box likes this idea because when you use a stylus-capable fondleslab you devote your strong hand to the task of wielding the stylus while your weaker hand gets the job of pincering the device to hold it steady. Microsoft reckons that pincering thumb is wasted and should instead be put to work.

But because the thumb needs to remain in place – moving it around means you'll drop the tablet – we need new user interface elements to put the digit to work.

Which is just what Ken Pfeuffer of Lancaster University, plus Microsoft Research's Bill Buxton, Ken Hinckley and Michel Pahud, have done.

The video below shows off their efforts: in Excel they suggest controls that make it easier to change the role of a stylus while working in a spreadsheet. A second scenario makes the thumb able to scroll, open web pages in background tabs or invoke a menu for different stylus options. The researchers' third scenario lets users scroll and access a palette of tools in a drawing program.

Youtube Video

As the video concludes, the techniques demonstrated “have the ability to increase the productive capability of tablets.” And any increase is clearly needed, given that tablet sales have declined for two-and-a-half years and show no sign of bouncing back. ?


Biting the hand that feeds IT ? 1998–2017

  • 305452893 2018-01-22
  • 61770892 2018-01-22
  • 59080891 2018-01-22
  • 87471890 2018-01-22
  • 79096889 2018-01-22
  • 734763888 2018-01-22
  • 455411887 2018-01-22
  • 685280886 2018-01-22
  • 615657885 2018-01-22
  • 700163884 2018-01-21
  • 866691883 2018-01-21
  • 994750882 2018-01-21
  • 92145881 2018-01-21
  • 263961880 2018-01-21
  • 5823879 2018-01-21
  • 202428878 2018-01-21
  • 235407877 2018-01-21
  • 949120876 2018-01-21
  • 530375875 2018-01-21
  • 14090874 2018-01-21