The Unadorned Desk: Exploiting the Physical Space around a Display as an Input Canvas

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In everyday office work, people smoothly use the space on their physical desks to work with documents of interest, and to keep associated tools and materials nearby for easy use. In contrast, the limited screen space of computer displays imposes interface constraints. Associated material is either placed off-screen (i.e., temporarily hidden) and requires extra work to access (window switching, menu selection) or crowds and competes with the work area (e.g., as palettes and icons). This problem is worsened by the increasing popularity of small displays such as tablets and laptops. To mitigate this problem, we investigate how we can exploit an unadorned physical desk space as an additional input canvas. Our Unadorned Desk detects coarse hovering over and touching of areas on an otherwise standard physical desk, which is used as input to the desktop computer. Unlike other augmented desks, feedback is given on the computer’s screen instead of on the desk itself. To better understand how people make use of this new input space, we conducted two user studies: (1) placing and retrieving application icons onto the desk, and (2) retrieving items from a predefined grid. We found that participants organize items in a grid for easier access, and are generally faster without affecting accuracy without on-screen feedback for few items, but were more accurate (though slower as they relied on feedback) for many items
Information interfaces and presentation, Interaction Styles