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Kratz, Sven (2012): Sensor-based user interface concepts for continuous, around-device and gestural interaction on mobile devices. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics



A generally observable trend of the past 10 years is that the amount of sensors embedded in mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets is rising steadily. Arguably, the available sensors are mostly underutilized by existing mobile user interfaces. In this dissertation, we explore sensor-based user interface concepts for mobile devices with the goal of making better use of the available sensing capabilities on mobile devices as well as gaining insights on the types of sensor technologies that could be added to future mobile devices. We are particularly interested how novel sensor technologies could be used to implement novel and engaging mobile user interface concepts. We explore three particular areas of interest for research into sensor-based user interface concepts for mobile devices: continuous interaction, around-device interaction and motion gestures. For continuous interaction, we explore the use of dynamic state-space systems to implement user interfaces based on a constant sensor data stream. In particular, we examine zoom automation in tilt-based map scrolling interfaces. We show that although fully automatic zooming is desirable in certain situations, adding a manual override capability of the zoom level (Semi-Automatic Zooming) will increase the usability of such a system, as shown through a decrease in task completion times and improved user ratings of user study. The presented work on continuous interaction also highlights how the sensors embedded in current mobile devices can be used to support complex interaction tasks. We go on to introduce the concept of Around-Device Interaction (ADI). By extending the interactive area of the mobile device to its entire surface and the physical volume surrounding it we aim to show how the expressivity and possibilities of mobile input can be improved this way. We derive a design space for ADI and evaluate three prototypes in this context. HoverFlow is a prototype allowing coarse hand gesture recognition around a mobile device using only a simple set of sensors. PalmSpace a prototype exploring the use of depth cameras on mobile devices to track the user's hands in direct manipulation interfaces through spatial gestures. Lastly, the iPhone Sandwich is a prototype supporting dual-sided pressure-sensitive multi-touch interaction. Through the results of user studies, we show that ADI can lead to improved usability for mobile user interfaces. Furthermore, the work on ADI contributes suggestions for the types of sensors could be incorporated in future mobile devices to expand the input capabilities of those devices. In order to broaden the scope of uses for mobile accelerometer and gyroscope data, we conducted research on motion gesture recognition. With the aim of supporting practitioners and researchers in integrating motion gestures into their user interfaces at early development stages, we developed two motion gesture recognition algorithms, the $3 Gesture Recognizer and Protractor 3D that are easy to incorporate into existing projects, have good recognition rates and require a low amount of training data. To exemplify an application area for motion gestures, we present the results of a study on the feasibility and usability of gesture-based authentication. With the goal of making it easier to connect meaningful functionality with gesture-based input, we developed Mayhem, a graphical end-user programming tool for users without prior programming skills. Mayhem can be used to for rapid prototyping of mobile gestural user interfaces. The main contribution of this dissertation is the development of a number of novel user interface concepts for sensor-based interaction. They will help developers of mobile user interfaces make better use of the existing sensory capabilities of mobile devices. Furthermore, manufacturers of mobile device hardware obtain suggestions for the types of novel sensor technologies that are needed in order to expand the input capabilities of mobile devices. This allows the implementation of future mobile user interfaces with increased input capabilities, more expressiveness and improved usability.