Publication: Ubiquitous Cursor: A Comparison of Direct and Indirect Pointing Feedback in Multi-Display Environments

Multi-display environments (MDEs) connect several displays into a single digital workspace. One of the main problems to be solved in an MDE's design is how to enable movement of objects from one display to another. When the real-world space between displays is modeled as part of the workspace (i.e., Mouse Ether), it becomes difficult for users to keep track of their cursors during a transition between displays. To address this problem, we developed the Ubiquitous Cursor system, which uses a projector and a hemispherical mirror to completely cover the interior of a room with usable low-resolution pixels. Ubiquitous Cursor allows us to provide direct feedback about the location of the cursor between displays. To assess the effectiveness of this direct- feedback approach, we carried out a study that compared Ubiquitous Cursor with two other standard approaches: Halos, which provide indirect feedback about the cursor's location; and Stitching, which warps the cursor between displays, similar to the way that current operating systems address multiple monitors. Our study tested simple cross-display pointing tasks in an MDE; the results showed that Ubiquitous Cursor was significantly faster than both other approaches. Our work shows the feasibility and the value of providing direct feedback for cross-display movement, and adds to our understanding of the principles underlying targeting performance in MDEs.




Robert Xiao
University of Waterloo
Miguel Nacenta
University of St Andrews, University of Saskatchewan, University of Calgary
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan
Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Advanced Interaction for Multi-display Environments
Multi-display environments (interfaces composed by several display surfaces) have the potential to dramatically change the way that we work with digital information: for example, they provide a variety of work surfaces to fit different kinds of tasks, they provide a very large visual bandwidth, they enable the use of peripheral attention space, and they naturally support co-located collaboration.


Xiao, R.B., Nacenta, M.A., Mandryk, R.L., Cockburn, A., Gutwin, C. 2011. Ubiquitous Cursor: A Comparison of Direct and Indirect Pointing Feedback in Multi-Display Environments. In Graphics Interface 2011, St. John's, Canada. 135-142.


@inproceedings {205-p135-xiao,
author= {Robert Xiao and Miguel Nacenta and Regan Mandryk and Andy Cockburn and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Ubiquitous Cursor: A Comparison of Direct and Indirect Pointing Feedback in Multi-Display Environments},
booktitle= {Graphics Interface 2011},
year= {2011},
address= {St. John's, Canada},
pages= {135-142}