London: Scientists have developed a new, improved scrolling technique that can speed up browsing through long texts by 60 per cent and double the probability of noticing points of interest in digital documents. The amount of data that we take in from screens each day through documents, email chains, web pages and social media flows is enormous.
The continuous scrolling technique we typically use to browse this data is, however, far from perfect, researchers said. "In conventional scrolling a number of objects are moving in the viewer window, which is problematic for visual attention," said Byungjoo Lee, Postdoctoral Researcher at Aalto University in Finland.
"First, motion blur makes it impossible to focus on an object. Second, the user is not able to direct attention for long enough to comprehend the content before it scrolls out of the window," said Lee. Researchers developed a new scrolling technique which better supports data processing in three different ways.
"Browsing of long texts speeds up by 60 per cent and less than half as much time is spent locating the desired locations in the text," Lee said. "In addition, the probability of noticing points of interest in the text is increased by 210 per cent compared to normal scrolling technique," he said. The new technique has been given the name Spotlights and is based on the spotlight metaphor of human visual attention.
According to existing research, visual attention needs about half a second to focus, which is clearly longer than the average amount of time that a sentence or picture remains on the screen when using the normal scrolling technique. "The new technique locates on each web page, whether it is a pdf document, video or web document, the visually important elements and presents them using a transparent layer than appears on top of the text," Lee said.
"The elements can be, for example, pictures, tables or headlines. It chooses what you should focus and allows you enough time to do that," he said. "Our empirical evaluation showed that benefits are significant. In this way people can scroll through as many as 20 pages per second and still retain information. The technique improves recollection of browsed information," said Antti Oulasvirta, from Aalto University.
"Our technique is the first to try to maximise the amount of the information on the screen for human visual attention," Oulasvirta said....