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Visualizing Locations of Off-Screen Objects on Mobile Devices: A Comparative Evaluation of Three Approaches
Authors:Burigat S., Chittaro L., Gabrielli S.
Published in:Proceedings of MOBILE HCI 2006: 8th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services, ACM Press, New York, September 2006, pp. 239-246.
Abstract:Browsing large information spaces such as maps on the limited screen of mobile devices often requires people to perform panning and zooming operations that move relevant display content off-screen. This makes it difficult to perform spatial tasks such as finding the location of Points Of Interest (POIs) in a city. Visualizing the location of off-screen objects can mitigate this problem: in this paper, we present a user study comparing the Halo  approach with two other techniques based on arrows. Halo surrounds off-screen objects with circles that reach the display window, so that users can derive the location and distance of objects by observing the visible portion of the corresponding circles. In the two arrow-based techniques, arrows point at objects and their size and body length, respectively, inform about the distance of objects. Our study involved four tasks requiring users to identify and compare off-screen objects locations, and also investigated the effectiveness of the three techniques with respect to the number of off-screen objects. Arrows allowed users to order off-screen objects faster and more accurately according to their distance, while Halo allowed users to better identify the correct location of off-screen objects. Implications of these results for mobile map-based applications are also discussed.