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Bill Buxton

Around 1982-84 the Structured Sound Synthesis Project (SSSP), morphed into the Input Research Group (IRG).  However, I don't think that we really called it that until I returned to the University of Toronto in 1989, after 2 years at Xerox's EUROPARC lab in Cambridge, England.  In essence, the music system had evolved into a production system.  It was still extremely interesting from a musical perspective, but no longer the focus of my research, per se.  This was increasingly around matters of input.  These interests absolutely grew out of the SSSP, but I now wanted to pursue them in a broader context - or, one could argue -from a narrower focus.  Regarless, while there was sometimes some overlap with music, the focus was on input.

These  video clips document the work done by this group.  I will add more clips as soon as I can and as time permits.  For each tape, I have included a reference to the related research paper(s), virtually all of which are on-line, and the link provided.

I continuted to direct this group until about the mid-1990's, when it started to wind down after  I moved to Alias Research as Chief Scientist.

Interaction is all about dynamics, and video and cinematic form in general, are critical to helping foster better communication and literacy.  Hence, you are encouraged to copy and share any of this material for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes.  Please just cite the source.

As usual, comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Note:  To play any of the videos, just click on the associated thumbnail.   I am in the process of uploading full-resolution copies of these videos onto YouTube.  If the video that you want to play is still in low-res Flash, contact me and I will attempt to upload it ASAP.  For your information, all of the videos that I have uploaded onto YouTube appear in the channel: wasbuxton.

An Informal Study of Selection-Positioning Tasks
(13 min. 17 sec.)
University of Toronto
A large part of my work has to do with compound rather than individual atomic tasks.  This is an early example, which compares a number of different approaches to articuluating selection/positioning tasks.  The study forshadows our later interest in marking menus, and grew out of our work on the SSSP (especially the score editing tools).  What is frightening  about this video is, on the one hand, how young I was, and on the other, how little my message has changed.  Sigh.

Buxton, W.,  (1982).An Informal Study of Selection-Positioning Tasks. Proceedings of Graphics Interface '82, 8th Conference of the Canadian Man-Computer Communications Society, Toronto, May, 1982, 323-328

"Etch" A Study in Marking-Based Interaction
(4 min. 1 sec.)
University of Toronto
The overall complexity of marking based systems can be reduced if one can impose some underlying rules or structure on the dialogues.  This study illustrates one example of attempting to do so, showing how a basic vocabulary can apply to different types of data, such as text or graphics.

Buxton, W., Fiume, E., Hill, R., Lee, A. & Woo, C. (1983). Continuous Hand-Gesture Driven Input. Proceedings of Graphics Interface '83, 9th Conference of the Canadian Man-Computer Communications Society, Edmonton, May 1983, 191-195.

Menulay  - A UIMS for Rapidly Sketching, Prototyping and Implementing User Interfaces
(3 min. 51 sec.)
University of Toronto
Menulay was an early user interface management system (UIMS).  As the video shows, it was done at a time when calligraphic, rather than raster scan displays were common (although it did handle both).  As is shown, it enabled the user to rapidly create rich media interfaces.

Buxton, W., Lamb, M. R., Sherman, D. & Smith, K. C. (1983).Towards a Comprehensive User Interface Management System. Computer Graphics 17(3). 35-42.

Issues & Techniques in Touch-Sensitive Tablet Input
(9 min. 7 sec.)
University of Toronto
An overview of considerations and techniques in the use of touch tablets is presented.  This includes identifying a few key attributes of touch tablets that make them attractive, compared to mice and trackballs, for example, in certain situations.  Touch tablets of different form-factors are considered, including integrated into a PDA.  Likewise, there is a demonstration of how a single tablet can be partitioned into a (limited) number of virtual devices, and still be used eye-free.  The tape concludes with a brief introduction of the multi-touch tablet presented more fully in the next video, below.

Buxton, W., Hill, R. & Rowley, P. (1985). Issues and techniques in touch-sensitive tablet input, Computer Graphics, 19(3), Proceedings of SIGGRAPH'85, 215-223..

A Multi-Point Touch Sensitive Tablet
(3 min. 8 sec.)
University of Toronto
I have always been interested in the potential of touch tablets.  What always seemed a shame is how few supported pressure, or any way of sensing the the degree of touch, or had the capability to sense more than one point of contact at a time.  This is a prototype tablet that did both..

Lee, S., Buxton, W. & Smith, K.C. (1985). A Multi-Touch Three Dimensional Touch-Sensitive Tablet. Proceedings of the 1985 Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems, CHI '85, San Francisco, April, 1985, 21-26.

A Study in Two-Handed Input
(4 min. 56 sec.)
University of Toronto
This is the first experimental work that I participated in.  This study was my first formal work in bimanual input, although two-handed input was something that I had done in practice from the start.  However, this paper established this as an important theme in my research career.

Buxton, W. & Myers, B. (1986). A study in two-handed input. Proceedings of CHI '86, 321-326.

Templates on Touch Tablets to Support Virtual Devices
(1 min. 55 sec.)
University of Toronto
One of the main reasons that touch tablets interested me was that you didn't have any mechanical intermediary between your hand and the tablet.  Hence you could use multple hands and/or fingers, and carve up the space into multiple virtual devices, much like the window manager on a display.

Brown, E., Buxton, W. & Murtagh, K. (1990). Windows on tablets as a means of achieving virtual input devices. In D. Diaper et al. (Eds), Human-Computer Interaction - INTERACT '90. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (North-Holland), 675-681.

Buxton, W. (1994). Combined keyboard / touch tablet input device, Xerox Disclosure Journal, 19(2), 109-111.

(2 min. 5 sec.)
University of Toronto
This is a video showing some of the very early work on "marking menus."  This clip does not demonstrate everything in the paper, but gives the flavour of some of the relevant issues.

Kurtenbach, G. & Buxton, W. (1991). GEdit: a testbed for editing by contiguous gesture. SIGCHI Bulletin, 23(2), 22 - 26.

(3 min. 54 sec.)
University of Toronto
MATE was a prototype that investigated the design of a tool to support the life-cycle of a document after it had been written, but before completion, i.e., annotaion, correction, editing, etc.  It supported collaboration and was especially considering the use of pen-based interfaces.  It has perhaps even more relevance now than when it was originally done..

Hardock, G., Kurtenbach, G., and Buxton, W. (1993). A Marking Based Interface for Collaborative Writing. Proccedings of UIST'93., 259-266.

Toolglass & Magic Lenses
(10 min. 12 sec.)
Xerox PARC
Toolglass and Magig Lenses represent a new paradigm for two-handed input that is based on how we undertake bimanual asymetric tasks in the everyday world.  The technique exploits everyday skills, increases the power of expression, yet can also build on existing GUI designs, thereby not requiring a whole new design.

Bier, E. A., Stone, M., Pier, K., Buxton, W. & DeRose. T. (1993). Toolglass and magic lenses: the see-through interfaceProceedings of SIGGRAPH '93, 73-80.
Bier, E., Stone, M., Fishkin, K., Buxton, W. & Baudel, T. (1994).A taxonomy of see-through tools.Proceedings of CHI '94, 358-364.

  The Chameleon: Spatially-Aware Palmtop Computers
(5 min. 5 sec.)
University of Toronto
This video demonstrates an early prototype of a hand-held digital device where one navigates through the information displayed in a manner somewhat analogous to how one looks at the world through a camera's viewfinder: one pans left/right & up/down to change the firection of view, and moves in to get a close-up and out to get an overview. In order to avoid arm fatigue, or uncomfortable positions, or always moving images, a "clutch" button is included so that one can engage or disengage the navigation. Effectively, this enables one to reset the origin of the coordinate space.

Fitzmaurice, George W. (1993). Situated information spaces and spatially aware palmtop computers.
Communications of the ACM, 36(7), 38-49.

Fitzmaurice, George, Zhai, Shumin & Chignell, Mark (1993). Virtual reality for palmtop computers.
ACM Transactions on Information Systems, 11(3), 197-218.

Graspable User Interface
(3 min. 34 sec.)
University of Toronto
This video introduces the notion of what we call "graspable" user interfaces.  These have also been called "props based" or "tangible" UIs.  It is a style of UI in which key components are manifest in graspable physical props whose physical form relates to their function. 

Fitzmaurice, G.W., Ishii, H. & Buxton, W. (1995). Bricks: Laying the Foundations for Graspable User Interfaces Proceedings of CHI'95, 442-449.
Fitzmaurice, G., & Buxton, W. (1997). An Empirical Evaluation of Graspable User Interfaces: towards specialized, space-multiplexed input. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'97).New York: ACM,  43-50.

Related work: [1]