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Parallax Augmented Desktop (PAD)


The goal of this project is to exploit a simple spatial metaphor to simulate a much larger desktop area on a two-dimensional displaying screen. The metaphor consist on considering the actual displaying screen as the face of a cube that extends behind the screen (see figure below). The user is then able to see the other five faces of the cube (from the inside), and can place icons and organize applications over its faces. The interaction method is designed in such a way as to naturally and powerfully evoque the metaphor described above: the user head is continuously tracked by a webcam on top of the screen, and the virtual cube is rotated and projected on the screen creating the illusion of a real cube right behind the screen.


Even though the image is not in 3D, when fine tunned, the adequate simulation of virtual parallax with respect to the motion of the user's head creates a compelling illusion of a virtual three-dimensional space. We hypothesized that we could take advantage of this illusion in order to simplify the task of selecting icons, closing and opening active windows as well as organizing information windows on a conventional Graphical User Interface environment.

Our first usability test was encouraging, as it showed that the use of the Parallax Augmented Desktop is very intuitive (training is not needed at all), and actually performs better (in terms of speed) than scrolling the mouse in order to get information on the far right or left of the screen (see videos below).



  1. Reynolds, C., Cassinelli, A., and M. Ishikawa (2008) Meta-perception: reflexes and bodies as part of the interface. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2008), April 5 - 10, 2008, Florence, Italy. [PDF, Quicktime Video Figure, WMV Video Figure]
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