Tracing and Sketching Performance using Blunt-tipped Styli on Direct-Touch Tablets

by | May 23, 2014

Authors: Sriram Karthik Badam, Senthil Chandrasegaran,Niklas Elmqvist, and Karthik Ramani
Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, May 27-30, Como, Italy. pp. 193-200, 2014

📑 Download the Paper

Direct-touch tablets are quickly replacing traditional pen-and-paper tools in many applications, but not in case of the designer’s sketchbook. In this paper, we explore the tradeoffs inherent in replacing such paper sketchbooks with digital tablets in terms of two major tasks: tracing and free-hand sketching. Given the importance of the pen for sketching, we also study the impact of using a blunt-and-soft-tipped capacitive stylus in tablet settings. We thus conducted experiments to evaluate three sketch media: pen-paper, finger-tablet, and stylus-tablet based on the above tasks. We analyzed the tracing data with respect to speed and accuracy, and the quality of the free-hand sketches through a crowdsourced survey. The pen-paper and stylus-tablet media both performed significantly better than the finger-tablet medium in accuracy, while the pen-paper sketches were significantly rated higher quality compared to both tablet interfaces. A follow-up study comparing the performance of this stylus with a sharp, hard-tip version showed no significant difference in tracing performance, though participants preferred the sharp tip for sketching.comparison

The media used for the main sketching study were: (a) a marker pen (overall size ø12mm  123mm with a 3mm tip) on paper (b)   finger on a 7-inch tablet, and (c) a blunt-tip stylus (ø8.5mm  122mm, 6mm tip) on a 7-inch tablet. The follow-up study compared (c) with (d) a hard-tip stylus (ø7.6mm  114mm, 1mm tip) on a 10-inch tablet.



Senthil Chandrasegaran is a postdoctoral scholar in the Visualization & Interface Design Innovation (VIDI) lab at the University of California, Davis. His work focuses on aiding collaboration through the capture and display of information generated in collaborative settings. Senthil was also a postdoctoral scholar at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland, College Park from April 2016 -- Aug 2017, where he worked on using visual analytics to aid qualitative analysis of data, and understanding physical and cognitive aspects of sketching during ideation. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue, where his work at the C Design Lab focused on understanding collaboration in the conceptual stages of design, by developing visual analytics-based techniques to make sense of multimodal design protocol data. In a past life before graduate school, he also worked in the automotive industry, specializing in interior trim design, and then in the heavy engineering industry, specializing in structural analysis and knowledge-based engineering. For more details, please visit his website [link].