Elastic Interfaces for Visual Data Browsing

Elastic Interfaces for Visual Data Browsing

Wolfgang Hürst (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-562-7.ch030
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In this article, we discuss the concept of elastic interfaces, which was originally introduced by Masui, Kashiwagi, and Borden (1995) a decade ago for the manipulation of discrete, time-independent data. It gained recent attraction again by our own work in which we adapted and extended it in order to use it in a couple of other applications, most importantly in the context of continuous, time-dependent documents (Hürst & Götz, 2004; Hürst, Götz, & Lauer, 2004). The basic idea of an elastic interface is illustrated in Figure 1. Normally, objects are moved by dragging them directly to the target position (direct positioning). With elastic interfaces, the object follows the cursor or mouse pointer on its way to the target position with a speed s that is a function of the distance d between the cursor and the object. They are called elastic because the behavior can be explained by the rubber-band metaphor, in which the connection between the cursor and the object is seen as a rubber band: The more the band is stretched, the stronger the force between the object and the cursor gets, which makes the object move faster. Once the object and cursor come closer to each other, the pressure on the rubber band decreases, thus slowing down the object’s movement. In the next section we describe when and why elastic interfaces are commonly used and review related approaches. Afterward, we illustrate different scenarios and applications in which elastic interfaces have been used successfully for visual data browsing, that is, for skimming and navigating through visual data. First, we review the work done by Masui (1998) and Masui et al. (1995) in the context of discrete, time-independent data. Then we describe our own work, which applies the concept of elastic interfaces to continuous, time-dependent media streams. In addition, we discuss specific aspects considering the integration of such an elastic behavior into common GUIs (graphical user interfaces) and introduce a new interface design that is especially useful in context with multimedia-document skimming.

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