microsoft research

patrick baudisch
Our earPod prototype is based on a USB touch pad  with an overlay limiting access to a round area. EarPod partitions this round area into 4 or 8 zones, each corresponding to one menu item. This allows experienced users to operate menus without iterating. In addition, earPod provides users with auditory feedback as they drag their finger between zones. This allows inexperienced users to learn menu choices without looking.

Many mobile devices, such as mobile audio player require the user's full visual attention. This tends to interfere with many mobile activities, such as driving. EarPod is an eyes-free menu technique using touch input and reactive auditory feedback. Studies comparing earPod with an iPod-like visual menu technique on reasonably-sized static menus indicate that they are comparable in accuracy. In terms of efficiency (speed), earPod is initially slower, but outperforms the visual technique within 30 minutes of practice. Our results indicate that earPod is a reasonable eyes-free menu technique for general use, and is a particularly exciting technique for use in mobile device interfaces.


Zhao, S., Dragicevic, P., Chignell, M., Balakrishnan, R., and Baudisch, P.
earPod: Eyes-free Menu Selection using Touch Input and Reactive Audio Feedback.
In Proceedings of CHI 2007, San Jose, CA, Apr 28-May 18, 2007, pp. 1395-1404.
PDF (1.5M)  | PPT (11.8M) | WMV (4.8M)

In collaboration with Shen Zhao (principal investigator), Pierre Dragicevic, Marc Chignell, & Ravin Balakrishnan from the University of Toronto