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This is a summary of the research paper ‘‘Beating’’ Fitts’ law: virtual enhancements for pointing facilitation” by Ravin Balakrishnan which can be found here.

This research paper seeks to find new techniques for artificially facilitating pointing at targets in graphical user interfaces. Normally, pointing at an object is governed by Fitts’ law but these constraints do not necessarily have to be followed in virtual environments. The paper speaks about several ways to achieve its goal including:

Designing widgets that minimize D (distance) – Move the targets close to the cursor where feasible

Temporarily bringing potential targets to the cursor – The system responds to directional cursor movements by temporarily bringing a virtual proxy of the most likely potential set of targets towards the cursor

Removing empty space between the cursor and targets – Useless pixels could be removed from consideration within the pointing task.

Area cursors – By increasing the area of cursors, very small targets which would traditionally have a high index of difficulty when selected by a point cursor would have a much lower index of difficulty when selected by an area cursor

Expanding targets – The size of the interface widget or viewing region dynamically changes to provide the user with a larger target area to interact with at their focus of attention.

Dynamically changing the control–display gain – Efficiencies could often be obtained by dynamically varying the C-D gain based on input device speed

This research benefits Human Centered Computing in the fact that they are trying to enhance the usability of the user experience through the graphical user interface. If technology is built which leverages this research, the user experience will be greatly enhanced. If successful, there are potential applications in several devices ranging from everyday household use to military use.

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