University of Konstanz
Graduiertenkolleg / PhD Program
Computer and Information Science

Graduation Talks


Usability of zoomable starfield displays on pen-based small devices


Thorsten Büring, University Konstanz
Konstanz, Germany

date & place

Wednesday, 19.07.2006, 15:15 h
Room C252


Zoomable user interfaces (ZUIs) are based on the assumption that navigation in information spaces is best supported by tapping into our natural spatial and geographical ways of thinking. Hence data objects must be organized in space and scale and users can navigate this space by performing zooming (changing the scale) and panning (movement at constant scale) operations. Since ZUIs make more efficient use of limited screen real estate, they thus provide a valuable solution for enhancing small displays.
A drawback with ZUIs is that users may easily become disoriented once they have zoomed into the information space. This is due to the clipping of orientation cues, an aspect that becomes increasingly significant as less display real estate is available. The objective of my talk is to present various techniques such as smooth zooming, overview+detail and focus+context interfaces that have been implemented to improve the navigation and orientation in ZUIs on devices that feature a small screen and stylus-input. The research was carried out in the context of Starfield displays: complex search interfaces that comprise a zoomable scatterplot control to ease access to large-scale multidimensional data. To compare the interfaces in terms of performance, user satisfaction and preference, we conducted several usability tests of which I report the results. The talk concludes with an outlook to future research on low-level ZUI-interaction to encourage parallel scaling and panning.