Microsoft Research tackles mobile touch-screen problem

Daniel Vogel, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, and Patrick Baudisch, a scientist at Microsoft Research, have created a technique designed to make it easier to select items on a mobile-phone screen with a finger rather than a pointed stylus. The Microsoft Research project, called Shift, automatically displays a circular image with a small "x" on the screen above where a user places his finger. By toggling the tip of his finger, a user can move the X to place it on top of the item he wants to choose. Lifting the finger from the screen selects the item.

Shift builds on an already developed technology known as Offset Cursor, which displays a cursor just above the spot a user touches on the screen. That allows users to place their fingers below the items they want to choose so that they can see the items rather than hiding them with their fingers. Vogel and Baudisch said Offset Cursor has drawbacks, particularly for users trying to choose an icon near the edge of the screen. Because Offset Cursor displays the cursor above the finger, it can't be used to choose icons at the bottom of the screen. Shift only displays the image when necessary, so if a user touches a large item, Shift doesn't pop up the circular image.

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News source: ComputerWorld

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