Six researchers at the University of Calgary have come up with a wicked idea, something that all users of touchscreen devices can appreciate. Their research paper is called “Fat Thumb” and focuses on “Single-Handed Mobile Interaction.” Touchscreen devices have several touch points and, for example in maps, users usually have to pan with one finger, double tap to zoom, or pinch and zoom with the two finger method.
What “Fat Thumb” is doing is based on the amount of pressure you put on your thumb/finger. According to the research paper “The Fat Thumb interaction technique, which uses the thumb’s contact size as a form of simulated pressure. This adds a degree of freedom, which can be used, for example, to integrate panning and zooming into a single interaction. Contact size determines the mode (i.e., panning with a small size, zooming with a large one), while thumb movement performs the selected mode.”
The research team tested Fat Thumb on the iPhone 4S, specifically with iOS version 5.1.1, with a 16 random people. They study revealed that “Fat Thumb is at least as fast as other existing techniques, non-fatiguing, and the preferred technique, all while having the lowest offset rates for smaller target areas of all techniques.”
Overall it’s a pretty cool idea, one that should be picked up by manufacturers to include in their OS, or even from an app company as a stand alone product. Perhaps Swype and Fat Thumb should partner for composing emails and texts. Full video after the break