It’s the same old problem - a Web page is simply shrunk to fit a
handheld screen and you waste time playing ‘blind man’s buff’ with the
screen contents because you can’t tell the relevant from the irrelevant
Browsing large pictures, or simply navigating the Web on a mobile
device is as unsatisfactory as trying to watch “The Return of the King” on
a portable TV.
Opera have what they call Small-Screen Rendering technology to counter
this but Patrick Baudisch and Xing Xie from Microsoft Research, Wei-Ying
Ma from Microsoft Research Asia, and Chong Wang of Tsinghua University
have provided a workaround to this limitation that will automate the
scrolling and navigation of a large picture with a single pen stroke.
It’s called Collapse-to-zoom and offers an alternative exploration
strategy. In addition to enabling users to zoom into relevant areas,
Collapse-to-zoom allows users to collapse areas deemed irrelevant, such as
archive material, or advertising. When you collapse the irrelevant
content all remaining material expands to display more detail, thus
increasing your chance of finding what you want. Collapse-to-zoom
navigation, explain the researchers, is based on a hybrid between a
marquee selection tool and a marking menu, that they’re naming “marquee
menu”. There are four commands for collapsing content areas at
different granularities and switching to a full-size view of what’s left
The system is controlled with pen gestures and are fully detailed in
the Technology Review (linked below). Dragging the pen diagonally
downwards from right to left collapses all page content in the rectangular
area covered by the pen, and replaces it with a thin placeholder that can
be restored by clicking if required. Dragging the pen diagonally upwards
from left to right zooms that area into a 100-percent-scale reading mode
and collapses everything around the area.
Baudisch, Xie, Ma and Wang will present their work at the ACM Symposium
on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2004) next week.
Collapse To Zoom paper (PDF)