Tag Support

10 Jun 2012 22:24
Last Modified
13 Jan 2013 17:19

I currently use Surface Tags for menus, reticles, compasses, and filters.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this approach. Advantages inlcude the ability of a tag to provide context of which control to add to the screen, and the ease at which a physical object can be moved, rotated, and removed (i.e. no requirement for "close" buttons). Disadvantages include the requirement to have the tags, and what to do in either Windows 7 multi-touch or vertical Surface deployments. With the latter in-mind, I was keen to explore a "tag-free" mode, which uses touch instead of tags.

In order to add a control to the screen without a tag, I needed a gesture which was easy to discover, and which had a low chance of being invoked accidentally. I opted for an analogy to sliding a physical tag from the bezel onto the edge of the screen. To add a default control, I drag a touch from the edge of the screen. In order to add different controls, I slide in a default "virtual tag" until the tag "selection bar" appears, then move in an orthogonal direction to cycle through a circular list of controls, then continue sliding in to place the control. These steps are illustrated below.

Tag Free Hint

Figure 1. Hint to "tag-free" default control.

Tag Free Menu

Figure 2. Slide-in "tag-free" default (menu) control.

Tag Free Compass

Figure 3. Cross-slide to "tag-free" compass control.

Tag Free Reticle

Figure 4. Cross-slide to "tag-free" reticle control.

In a similar way to physical tags, I can rotate the "virtual tags" using two or more touch points placed where the physical tag would normally reside. To remove a tag, I slide or flick it to the edge of the screen.

In order to best support multiple users and/or orientations, it is possible to slide in controls from each edge of the Surface, with the tag "selection bar" and controls being oriented appropriately.

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