March 29, 2016

New scrolling technique developed in Finland

The probability of noticing points of interest in texts is significantly increased with Aalto's scrolling method.
The probability of noticing points of interest in texts is significantly increased with Aalto's scrolling method.
Istock/Georgijevic

Aalto University researchers have developed a new scrolling technique which allows documents to be skimmed 60 per cent faster and with higher recall.

The amount of data that we take in from screens each day through documents, email chains, web pages and social media flows is enormous. The conventional scrolling technique, however, is problematic for visual attention. As a number of objects are moving, motion blur makes it impossible to focus on an object. In addition, the user is not able to direct attention for long enough to comprehend the content before it scrolls out of the window.

Aalto University researchers have developed a new scrolling technique that better supports data processing. Browsing of long texts speeds up by 60 per cent, and less than half as much time is spent spotting the desired locations in the text. In addition, the probability of noticing points of interest in the text is significantly increased.

“The new technique locates on each web page, whether it is a pdf document, video or web document, the visually important elements and presents them using a transparent layer than appears on top of the text,” says postdoctoral researcher Byungjoo Lee. “The elements can be, for example, pictures, tables or headlines. It chooses what you should focus and allows you enough time to do that.”

Using Spotlights, readers can scroll through as many as 20 pages per second and still retain information. The technique also improves recollection of browsed information.

The project team continues to seek possibilities to put Spotlights in practice. The project has received 1.5 million euros in funding from European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The research results will also be presented at the world’s largest computer-human interaction conference in the US in May.

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