Prof. Dr.-Ing. D. Zühlke, Dipl.-Ing. Lutz KrauB
Institute for Production Automation Kaiserslautern Germany
Windows-oriented software systems, such as WINDOWS and MAC OS have meanwhile become the state-of-the-art in the field of home and office computers. These systems are also used more and more in the field of industrial applications. Despite the economic advantages of this development existing disadvantages are still not taken into account.
A characteristic feature of windows-systems is the direct manipulation of visual objects. It enables users to operate almost entirely by means of pointing actions. Thus users get the feeling to work with real objects, which can be moved (Dragand-Drop), reduced or increased in size. The precondition is the availability of a suitable pointing device, e.g. a mouse. The user clicks on the desired object with the mouse key (selection) and certain commands are executed by certain mouse actions (function activation).
However, the mouse is not always the most appropriate device to interact with computers. In industrial applications the mouse can not very often be utilised due to dirt and the lack of a horizontal surface for moving it. An effective utilisation of windows-systems in this field requires the development of a suitable alternative.
Therefore, tests were conducted with machine operators under industrial environments to determine the suitability of different pointing devices like mouse, mousebutton, joystick, trackball, touchscreen, touchpad, etc. The paper will present the used methods and the research results indicating the suitability of the tested pointing devices.
A comparative investigation of' pointing devices with 32 persons has been carried out at the Institute of Production Automation and has provided some interesting results. The group of test persons is divided into experienced users