04.04.11

New interface makes content elastic

A research group including members from Osaka University has demonstrated a new control interface for touch screens that flexes when scrolled. In the demonstration, the flex interface was used with Google Maps. This method treats content on the screen as an elastic, flexible material. Parts of the content that are normally pushed outside the screen by scrolling are distorted to keep them within the screen.

This enables users to navigate around the map while keeping an eye on the parts of the map that were originally on the screen.

"Unlike ordinary scrolling, this method flexes the content when you move your finger. But when you take your finger away, you get a scrolled screen, as with ordinary scrolling. When you are flexing the interface and return your finger back to the original position, the screen goes back to normal.

“So this interface is very flexible to use, because if you've scrolled somewhere, but you don't need what's on the screen, you can go back. And if you want to scroll, you can do it without completely changing the content on screen. Also, if you want to see both parts, you can touch the flexed part and it will zoom out to include both areas.

"Because this interface can be easily added to any software, it can be used on all kinds of devices. You can use it on the iPhone and the iPod touch, and it could also be used with larger screens."

In future the researchers would like to include pinch to zoom using multi-touch as well as the flex effect, and to enhance the zooming capability.