Here are some examples of interfaces or interaction techniques
that left a strong impression on me of just how much room there
is for innovation within HCI.
Each of these is an elegant combination of simple and familiar elements,
and yet is surprisingly novel and/or clever.
- Marking Menus are a scheme for integrating hierarchical menus
with gesture recognition. They can be operated in one of
two modes: novice and expert. One property of Marking Menus
is that the very use of them in "novice mode" will naturally and
gradually train the user to operate them in "expert mode",
a mode that is qualitatively different and much faster.
See, for example, Gord Kurtenbach and Bill Buxton (1994),
User Learning and Performance with Marking Menus,
Proceedings of ACM CHI '94 Conference on Human Factors
in Computing Systems.
- Toolglass allows simultaneous selection of nouns (objects)
and verbs (actions, or commands) in a bimanual interface,
by clicking through the verb, onto the noun.
Eric A. Bier, Maureen C. Stone, Ken Pier, William Buxton,
Tony D. DeRose,
Toolglass and magic lenses: the see-through interface,
Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH '93.
Gordon Kurtenbach, George Fitzmaurice, Thomas Baudel, Bill Buxton,
The design of a GUI paradigm based on tablets, two-hands,
and transparency, Prcoeedings of ACM CHI '97.
- The Hotbox is a nice extension of pop-up technology.
Gord Kurtenbach, George Fitzmaurice,
Russel Owen, and Thomas Baudel (1999),
The Hotbox: efficient access to a large number of menu-items,
Proceedings of ACM CHI '99 Conference on Human Factors
in Computing Systems.
- Various window managers for X11, such as
allow windows to be shuffled, moved, and resized very quickly
with the mouse, without requiring the acquisition of window borders
or other decorations.
- Tape Drawing is a 2-handed technique for drawing curves.
Though not invented by HCI researchers, a digital version
of tape drawing has been implemented only recently, and
demonstrates the surprising qualities of this drawing
technique. Curves can be drawn with straight and curved
segments, with cusps or with C1-continuous transitions between
segments, and with continuous control over the tangency of
the curve, all without any mode changes!
See Ravin Balakrishnan et al. (1999),
Digital Tape Drawing,
Proceedings of ACM UIST 1999 Symposium on User Interface Software
- John Maeda's
are a fine example of his
reactive graphics, which I like to think of as an exploration
of the basic elements of interaction.
- Joshua Nimoy's
is a novel reinterpretation of familiar metaphors: typed input,
and tree structures.
- Golan Levin's
demonstrates how both the shape and timing of a mouse stroke can
be directly and immediately captured in an animated form.
The ideas behind YellowTail seem to overlap with
those of John Maeda's
TimePaint program (see page 98 of his book Maeda@Media, 2000).
- Venolia and Neustaedter have described an elegant way of
combining an outline tree view with a sequential ordering
of nodes based on some attribute such as time.
See Gina Danielle Venolia and Carman Neustaedter (2003),
Understanding sequence and reply relationships within email
conversations: a mixed-model visualization,
Proceedings of ACM CHI 2003 Conference on Human Factors
in Computing Systems.
- Tracking Menus trap the pointer within a kind of "mouse trap".
One or more controls located on the perimiter of the menu are
easily accessed by moving (ballistically) far enough from the center
of the menu, or by "pawing" the pointing device.
This can be thought of as using the menu to reveal a gesture
set to the user, where the gestures (e.g. long straight strokes)
are made just prior to a press down event, which itself can
be used to pop up more controls or initiate a drag.
See George Fitzmaurice et al. (2003),
Proceedings of ACM UIST 2003 Symposium on User Interface Software
Interestingly, there's also related previous work by Jens Tinz, called
which I think of as a hybrid of tracking and marking menus.
- Another cool interaction technique: Hover Widgets,
described by Grossman et al. at CHI 2006.
The above examples are only a small sample of the excellent
and exciting research out there.
They are not meant to particularly endorse certain works over others.
I only list them here as examples of personal influences,
in the hopes that they may inspire interest
and possibly attract new people to this field.