The effects of encumbrance and mobility on interactions with touchscreen mobile devices

Ng, Alexander Wing Ho (2016) The effects of encumbrance and mobility on interactions with touchscreen mobile devices. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Mobile handheld devices such as smartphones are now convenient as they allow users to make calls, reply to emails, find nearby services and many more. The increase in functionality and availability of mobile applications also allow mobile devices to be used in many different everyday situations (for example, while on the move and carrying items). While previous work has investigated the interaction difficulties in walking situations, there is a lack of empirical work in the literature on mobile input when users are physically constrained by other activities. As a result, how users input on touchscreen handheld devices in encumbered and mobile contexts is less well known and deserves more attention to examine the usability issues that are often ignored.
This thesis investigates targeting performance on touchscreen mobile phones in one common encumbered situation - when users are carrying everyday objects while on the move. To identify the typical objects held during mobile interactions and define a set of common encumbrance scenarios to evaluate in subsequent user studies, Chapter 3 describes an observational study that examined users in different public locations. The results showed that people carried different types of bags and boxes the most frequently.
To measure how much tapping performance on touchscreen mobile phones is affected, Chapter 4 examines a range of encumbrance scenarios, which includes holding a bag in-hand or a box underarm, either on the dominant or non-dominant side, during target selections on a mobile phone. Users are likely to switch to a more effective input posture when encumbered and on the move, so Chapter 5 investigates one- and two- handed encumbered interactions and evaluates situations where both hands are occupied with multiple objects. Touchscreen devices afford various multi-touch input types, so Chapter 6 compares the performance of four main one- and two- finger gesture inputs: tapping, dragging, spreading & pinching and rotating, while walking and encumbered.
Several main evaluation approaches have been used in previous walking studies, but more attention is required when the effects of encumbrance is also being examined. Chapter 7 examines the appropriateness of two methods (ground and treadmill walking) for encumbered and walking studies, justifies the need to control walking speed and examines the effects of varying walking speed (i.e. walking slower or faster than normal) on encumbered targeting performance.
The studies all showed a reduction in targeting performance when users were walking and encumbered, so Chapter 8 explores two ways to improve target selections. The first approach defines a target size, based on the results collected from earlier studies, to increase tapping accuracy and subsequently, a novel interface arrangement was designed which optimises screen space more effectively. The second approach evaluates a benchmark pointing technique, which has shown to improve the selection of small targets, to see if it is useful in walking and encumbered contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Encumbrance, walking, mobile interactions, mobile user interfaces, mobile devices.
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Supervisor's Name: Brewster, Professor Stephen
Date of Award: 2016
Depositing User: Mr Alexander Wing Ho Ng
Unique ID: glathesis:2016-7185
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2016 10:02

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