July 07, 2012, 7:55 AM — Touchscreen interfaces make it really easy to flick though apps and webpages with a single finger. But it's always an awkward moment whenever I have to do some multi-touch action, because I need to use my other hand to hold my phone, and that hand might be holding a Shake Shack burger (better than In-n-Out!) or a beverage.[Editor's Note: Shake Shack better than In-n-Out? Unpossible!]
Six researchers from the Interactions Lab at the University of Calgary have developed a new touchscreen interaction technique called Fat Thumb. This extra bit of touchscreen software tracks your thumb's contact size as a form of simulated pressure, allowing you to navigate and perform multi-touch gestures with a single finger.
The scientists tested their touch software using maps in which users were able to pan around using just the tip of their thumb. At the same time, the users were able to easily switch to zooming in and out by pressing their whole thumb against the screen.
A Fat Thumb system could make it much easier and more comfortable to use touchscreens. But, more importantly, a touchscreen interface that can distinguish between your finger's nail, tip, and pad could open whole new subset of single-touch interactions.
Fat Thumb is a research project by Sebastian Boring, David Ledo, Xiang 'Anthony' Chen, Nicolai Marquardt, Anthony Tang, and Saul Greenberg. The project will be presented at the Mobile HCI 2012 conference held in September in San Francisco.
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