AutoPoint: Selecting and Interacting with Distant Objects While Traveling in an Automobile

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In the near future, self-driving or driverless vehicles will operate without human control, enabling passengers to use their time in new ways. This opens up avenues for designing new interactions and experiences for individuals or groups traveling in an automobile. For that scenario, automobile manufacturers propose developing bigger and better versions of contemporaneous in-car entertainment systems, e.g. larger screens playing movies [6]. This kind of entertainment implicitly seeks to draw our attention away from the outside world that cars are traveling through. I propose an alternative; that interactive car windows are a feasible way to engage with the world one is driving through. With AutoPoint, I have designed and developed techniques that use a car’s window as an interactive and transparent display surface. AutoPoint enables passengers to select and engage with Points-of-Interest (PoI) outside the car. In order to select a PoI, a passenger first takes a snapshot of the area the car is driving through, as seen from her/his point of view, by tapping or pointing at the car window. Thereafter, the passenger can narrow down that snapshot of an area of interest into a particular PoI using multi-touch input. Once the PoI is selected, contextual information — e.g. data about a historic building — is provided on the car window as well. The system was designed, developed, and studied in the lab (with 36 participants) over multiple iterations. Upon completion of the lab study, I developed a version of AutoPoint as an iPad application. This application incorporated a subset of interaction techniques from the lab setup that were shown to work well. I retrofitted a car with an iPad that mimicked the lab setup as closely as possible (Figure 5.2) and drove 14 participants on a loop around campus to test the system in the real world and get participant feedback. In this dissertation, I report on the limitations and successes of multi-touch and in-air gestural inputs when a 2D interactive area is all that is available to observe or learn about an external 3D world in motion. This scenario is obtained, for example, while riding an automobile or a train, when a passenger may view items of interest through the window, and it falls under a class of problems I refer to as Multimodal Transparent Display Interactions (MTDI) with External World in Motion (EWM), or MTDI-EWM for short. In an age when self-driving cars are being assiduously developed, opportunities exist for a more rewarding touring experience, but that is not the only derivative of this work. The design and evaluation of AutoPoint can also lead to a better appreciation of potential applications in games and informational / educational experiences akin to a museum visit or a guided tour.

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  • 01/16/2019
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