The keyboard enables to select and activate single objects in a Window-surface but impedes spatial manipulation, i.e. movement of objects on the surface. However, if the system design has been adjusted especially to keyboard interaction as in the German Open CNC Controller Project OSACA/HOMNOS ( Boll et al. 1997), the keyboard proves to be a cost-effective and reliable alternative. Various input fields (e.g. text boxes) can be selected within a window by means of the group-change keys.
The worst pointing device in the frame of the research turned out to be the mousebutton. It is force-sensitive and can be used in four directions with the finger. Due to its low cost it is often embedded in operating panels. Like mousesticks and mousepads the mousebutton can also be used in vertical position. The tests revealed, that users had difficulties in getting used to this device, especially to the fine positioning.
If Windows-based systems are incorporated in the frame of the development of a new controller, a suitable navigation concept must be developed in the first place. The well-known techniques from office applications, such as mouse operation or drag-and-drop can not simply be adopted, New developments in the field of control technique will demand new solutions in the interaction with users. This study may facilitate to select an appropriate device. Further investigations need to follow resulting in concrete design guidelines for developers of control techniques. An individual final decision for an industrial pointing device should only be taken after comparative tests with several test persons have been carried out under realistic process conditions.
Boll, J. et al. ( 1997). OSACA / HÜMNOS Style Guide for Machine-ToolGUI's : Ein Handbuch zur Gestaltung von Benutzungsoberflächen für Werkzeugmaschinen. Fraunhofer IRB, Stuttgart.
Bortz, J., Döring, N. ( 1995). Forschungsmethoden und Evaluation. Springer, Berlin.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Detlef Zühlke, Dipl.-Ing. Lutz Krauss University Kaiserslautern, Institute for Production Automation 67653 Kaiserslautern, Germany email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com internet: http://pak.mv.uni-kl.de