Volume 4 Issue 1
Spring 2008
ISSN 1937-7266

Fluid interaction for the document in context

Pierre Cubaud, Jérôme Dupire, Alexandre Topol

Centre d'études et de recherche en informatique (CEDRIC)
{cubaud, dupire, topol}@cnam.fr

The use of 3D representations for digital document management is slowly gaining acceptance. The 3 major desktop interfaces (Unix, Windows Vista, Apple Mac OS) now offer such tools for basic windows manipulations. Using a similar approach for the in-depth reading of digital books has been investigated in [1, 2, 3]. Another field where the 3D visualisation technologies appear naturally is digitization for the museums. This last type of application makes particularly necessary the use of textual metadata, but their presentation remains completely isolated from the interfaces of navigation within the collection of 3D objects. It therefore seems interesting to study the coexistence of textual documents and 3D objects within one single environment of visualization. Our potential field of application is digital libraries for the history of technology, where one would like to be able to associate machines or scientific devices, for example, and the works which describe them. We are interested in particular in the situations where this type of contextual association is not conceived a priori, by the author of a hypermédia, but a posteriori by a reader who has access to several sources of information that he/she compares.

The Figure opposes real (top left) and virtual working sessions (top right). For the first, original documents and objects are organized on a desk according to the user's abilities and preferences. The reading space requires an organization, an ergonomics, even an esthetics adapted to support an effective work. The digital counterpart relies usually on the desktop metaphor of WIMP interfaces in which various windows can be organized or resized at will. However, the size of such desktops is very reduced and does not allow to reach a productivity comparable with a traditional desk [4].

We have described in [1] how digital books can be displayed in a 3D scene with contrained movements. With 3D objects two functionalities are important : move/organize them freely and allow their study. The adopted solution (figure at the bottom) consists in a simple bounding sphere nonsensitive to rotations, associated with a positioning handle (a cylinder at its base). Rotations are computed from mouse movements on the bounding sphere. In its micro-environment limited to its bounding sphere, the 3D object does not undergo gravity. Thus, one can let it rest in the desired position that meets our needs for studying. The sphere and positioning artefacts undergo the gravity and the laws of the environment like the lecterns.


[1] Cubaud, P., Stokowski, P., and Topol, A. Binding browsing and reading activities in a 3D digital library. Proc. of JCDL '02. ACM Press, New York, NY, 281-282.

[2] Card, S. K., Hong, L., Mackinlay, J. D., and Chi, E. H. 3Book: a scalable 3D virtual book. Proc. of ACM CHI '04. ACM Press, New York, NY, 1095-1098.

[3]Chu, Y., Bainbridge, D., Jones, M., and Witten, I. H. Realistic books: a bizarre homage to an obsolete medium?. Proc.of JCDL '04. ACM Press, New York, NY, 78-86.

[4] Mackinlay J. D., Heer J., Royer C.: Wideband Visual Interfaces: Sensemaking on Multiple Monitors. PARC Technical Report, 2003.