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Published January 2006 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Geometric anticipation: assisting users in 2D layout tasks


We describe an experimental interface that anticipates a user's intentions and accommodates predicted changes in advance. Our canonical example is an interactive version of ``magnetic poetry'' in which rectangular blocks containing single words can be juxtaposed to form arbitrary sentences or ``poetry.'' The user can rearrange the blocks at will, forming and dissociating word sequences. A crucial attribute of the blocks in our system is that they anticipate insertions and gracefully rearrange themselves in time to make space for a new word or phrase. The challenges in creating such an interface are three fold: 1) the user's intentions must be inferred from noisy input, 2) arrangements must be altered smoothly and intuitively in response to anticipated changes, and 3) new and changing goals must be handled gracefully at any time, even in mid animation. We describe a general approach for handling the dynamic creation and deletion of organizational goals. Fluid motion is achieved by continually applying and correcting goal-directed forces to the objects. Future applications of this idea include the manipulation of text and graphical elements within documents and the manipulation of symbolic information such as equations.

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