I recently finished work on characterizing how people gesture above surfaces in collaborative tasks. We looked at pairs and groups of people sharing information over maps in a variety of settings. The result of the research was a set of five design principles for representing deixis (mostly pointing gestures) over surfaces (such as a map). Here they are:
1. Embody the hand and some portion of the arm with a high-fidelity image.
2. Add an abstract visualization of the point of the index finger
3. Enhance the representation of movement with visual traces or other visual effects
4. Use an abstract representation for height
5. Use an abstract representation for pressure variations.
Following those five design recommendations should result in embodiments with a wide range of expressivity that properly emphasize the important aspects of deixis. Our next work (and the last work in my dissertation) is the creation and evaluation of abstract representations for height. I'm interested in what will work and not work, and why. I've already done some of this other research and will talk about it later. It occurs to me, however, that people aren't working on number five at all and very little work has been done on number three. It would be really nice if there were some place I could publish those problems, in a coherent way, where other students looking for research topics could examine them and fill in the holes my research will leave.
We need a new research tool.