matt partridge
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iPod Gestural Menu Shortcuts

interaction sketch


Project Objective:
Significantly improve upon search times of a well established interface.

iPod has proven itself as the undisputed benchmark of quality for ease of use of navigating items in a list menu format. The trademark scroll wheel of iPod greatly suffers in efficiency as lists grow larger. No time is this more evident then attempting to find a specific song that is not on a playlist. Users can follow many sequences to find a song, browsing by songs, albums, artists etc. Each search sequence involves some varied orders of clicks and scrolling; a path of fewer clicks often being the most desirable
From the main menu of iPod, navigating to a desired song is a minimum of three clicks deep.
Unfortunately, fewer clicks lead to longer lists. iPod orders songs alphanumerically beginning with numeric labeled items. Even with a scroll wheel, traversing to the letter "Z..." seems an intensively laborious process.
It is evident a more efficient iPod navigation will eventually succeed the current system; one that employs a spotlight style fast search ability.

Quick search on iPod quickly must respect the current interface use and aesthetic as not to damage the product.
By employing the use of a sudden motion sensor, iPod menus can incorporate a fast search ability by use of gesture and bring an added bonus of hard drive protection. User gestures can be followed to form letters then advancing the list to the named section.
For example: A user is looking for a song called "Star Guitar" will take the shortest route in clicks and browse by "songs". Once in the song list menu; iPod in hand; the user can make a quick gesture forming the letter "S" advancing the list to songs beginning with "S...". A successive "T" motion further advances the menu to songs beginning with "ST..." Star Guitar is likely to be visible by this point.

Corrective Motions:
What if the user intended a different letter form then they delivered? Or, what if the user wants to go back to the beginning of the list after a selection has been made?
Currently; a user intending to return to the beginning of a menu has to scroll back, or back out on menu level; change lists; then return to the intended list again.
A gestural shortcut can resolve these issues. A light shake of the iPod like erasing an etch-a-sketch will restore the sector to the beginning of the list.

Gestural Language:

The best gestural language to employ for iPod quick searching is disputable. Palm Graffiti may be an obvious first choice as it already has a large user base whose skills on a Palm pilot and tablet can now transfer over to their iPods. Graffiti is intended for use on a tablet writing surface; definite starting and stopping points of a motion can easily be made and tracked. Open air gestures may prove more difficult to measure and track than those made on a tablet and require a revised version of graffiti.


Harmonious integration:
Gestural shortcuts for iPod will only work when a user in navigating a menu, once a song is playing, the feature is automatically disabled.
Menus honor conventional use of the scroll wheel over gestural shortcuts, as scrolling requires the unit to be relatively still for the screen to be read; even while the user is in a great deal of motion. For example, jogging.

Similar Uses:
Sony Network Walkman currently employs a sudden motion sensor to change the graphical interface as the orientation of the device to the ground changes. Held at approximately 90 degrees off center to the ground the screen rotates; assuming the user prefers the changed orientation of the device.

© copyright 2005 matt partridge
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