[Summaries week 8]: Task gallery, Design Pre-patterns

The Task Gallery: A 3D Windows Manager

In this paper, the authors describe their system, The Task Gallery, which is a novel 3D windows manager, focusing on the usability aspects of their system. Their work is motivated by the desire to leverage human spatial memory to allow for more efficient task management in contemporary computing environments that have evolved from uni-tasking systems to those are inherently multi-tasking based.

The authors describe their design of the Task Gallery, which, in keeping with its real-world metaphor of an art gallery, places tasks (a set of related-work windows) in “walls” in 3D virtual rooms. There is a central stage, in front of the user’s viewpoint, that displays the most prominent piece of art – in this case, the currently active task.

Through a sequence of 3D interaction operators, the user can “walk” this virtual task gallery, revealing more tasks as the user walks away from the stage and vice versa. Users can also select exhibited tasks from gallery walls to bring them onto the stage, and can reorder tasks by moving them around – constrained to gallery walls – in 3D. The individual windows in the current task on the stage, are further managed by the use of an loose stack – analogous to cascaded windows in the 2D windowing environments – and an ordered stack. The authors also describe how they allow users to create tasks by using a task palette and describe the accompanying user interactions.

The authors carry out exhaustive user studies to determine the efficacy of their system. They find that  users prefer to use the side walls as opposed to the floor and ceiling for placing tasks – an interesting result, as this is consistent with the layout of artwork in galleries and thus highlights that users did draw on the metaphor for determining task-placement. Also significant was the fact that a large number of people could remember their task placement after being removed from the environment, demonstrating the engagement of human spatial memory by the system.

In concluding, the authors present an overview of the implementation of their system, which relies on redirecting application output to bitmaps instead of video-memory, followed by appropriately texture mapping the 3D gallery using these generated textures, and present avenues for future work.


Pre-Patterns for Designing Embodied Interactions in Handheld Augmented Reality(HAR) Games

In their paper, the authors make an effort at laying out a set of formal design patterns for embodied interactions in HAR games. Recognizing the nascent nature of contemporary HAR interactions, they call this distillation of existing HAR practices “pre-patterns”. They present a set of nine pre-patterns that leverage human embodiment skills. The authors motivate their work by pointing out the importance of patterns – their capacity of being not just bodies of re-usable knowledge, but also extremely important communication tools for a particular domain, serving to represent knowledge succinctly.

Post discussing their method for generating the pre-patterns, and relevant related works, the authors enumerate the various pre-patterns:

Device Metaphors: This pre-pattern emphasizes the benefits of guiding of player’s actions by likening a device to a familiar object. This enables skill transfer from the real-world domain to the game.

Control Mapping: This pre-pattern stresses that a conscious decision needs to be made regarding mapping of control actions to game actions to create experiences that give the player a sense of satisfaction and control.

Seamful design: This pre-pattern states the need for designers to explicitly create segmented experiences in HAR as technical limitations of vision based tracking render seamless interactions impossible.

World Consistency: This pre-pattern establishes that HARs also carry with them an implicit understanding among users that objects in hybrid world will behave in accordance with real world principles. The designer can use this knowledge to create coherent worlds or jarring hybrid worlds by defying these expectations.

Landmarks: This pre-pattern stresses that just as physical landmarks help in navigation in the real-world, so do they in hybrid worlds, and placing physical-digital landmarks helps players navigate hybrid worlds.

Living Creatures: This pre-pattern mentions that the use of reactive digital creatures gives them an illusion of “living” in the physical world and that this fact should be exploited as necessary by the designer.

Personal presence: This pre-pattern states that users can enhance their presence in the digital world by using the HAR interface in various ways (first person views, third person views, etc).

Body constraints: This pre-pattern states that HAR games should be designed to leverage relative player positions in the hybrid world.

Hidden information: This pre-pattern states that HAR games should be designed to reveal hidden information in accordance with the users interactions, creating an interactive experience.

The authors conclude by stating that the above mentioned pre-patterns should serve to inform the designer in her designing of HAR game experiences.