A PhD thesis defended by Thomas Baudel at the University of Paris-Sud, on December 15th, 1995.
The morphology of Human-Computer Interaction is the description of the elementary actions of use of a computerized information processing system. An interacting user triggers input devices, which emit signals interpreted by the system. These signals are processed and grouped as events, autonomous entities corresponding to elementary modifications of information objects. We intend to describe these entities, from the perspective of the user producing them, as well as from their integration in the system.
Our study of the morphology of interaction has two purposes: first, nowadays applications make a limited and unnatural use of our capabilities. Current inpur devices have a limited power of expression and do not match our everyday experience at handling real objects. We need new interaction paradigms, new "vocabularies" of information manipulation to remedy this. Second, new applications of computer science, like CAD, groupware, multimedia or internetworked databases (WWW) require new interaction tehcniques, more adaptated to the information objects handled. To perform this, we need to adopt a somewhat more formal approach, capable of generalization, to give us a better understanding of the general structure of interaction.
We chose an experimental approach, relying on the realization of several prototype interaction techniques, involving gestural input and multimodal interaction, with traditional input devices (mouse, pen and tablet) or nez devices (dataglove). We propose a few definitions, such as the notion of interaction model, elementary actions, and a few criteria for the realization of effectivee interaction techniques. Then we extract from the proposed interaction techniques some common patterns and oppositions, giving us some global design principles for the conception of novel interaction techniques. Finally, we propose a first formalization which could lead to a more general understanding of the morphology of human computer interaction.
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