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Response to [Imaginary Interfaces] by Gustafson et al.


Gustafson et al. present “Imaginary Interfaces” where people imagine an interface in the air where they use the non-dominant hand to form a reference frame based on which the dominant hand point and draw on that interface. “Imaginary Interface” approaches screen-less devices but allows rich spatial interactions without visual feedback. The main challenge brought by this design is how well users can harness the interaction simply using visual short-term memory. Three studies try to explore this question. Study 1 found single stroke character drawing was better performed than multi-segment drawing. Study 2 found that users’ motion such as turning around negatively affected the performance of drawing and annotating. Study 3 found targeting error to correlate with the Manhattan distance of the arget from the user’s fingertips, serving as visual landmarks.


  • “Screen-less wearable devices allow for the smallest form factor and thus the maximum mobility;”
  • “Our findings suggest that users’ visual short-term memory can, in part, replace the feedback conventionally displayed on a screen.”
  • “Today’s desktop computer interfaces are mostly based on spatial interaction”
  • “The main benefit of Imaginary Interfaces is that they bring 2D spatial interaction to screen-less devices.”
  • “…microinteractions [1], i.e. interactions too short to merit whipping out a more interactive device.”
  • “Imaginary Interface derive in spirit from wearable computing. We share the goal of creating always available, nearly invisible and completely integrated personal computing technology to support day to day life.”
  • “As computers become more adept at interpreting the language of people (i.e., reality) they necessarily resort to input modalities akin to gestures.


  • proposing something crazy is bad; but trying to study it is good.
  • Imaginary Interface didn’t realize the relation between the interaction and the body – it happens in peripersonal space.
  • Do people have short term visual memory in BCI? Should BCI target microinteraction? (what’s the opposite of microinteraction?)

About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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