University of Oulu

Yui-Pan Yau, Lik Hang Lee, Zheng Li, Tristan Braud, Yi-Hsuan Ho, and Pan Hui. 2020. How Subtle Can It Get? A Trimodal Study of Ring-sized Interfaces for One-Handed Drone Control. Proc. ACM Interact. Mob. Wearable Ubiquitous Technol. 4, 2, Article 63 (June 2020), 29 pages. DOI:

How subtle can it get? : a trimodal study of ring-sized interfaces for one-handed drone control

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Author: Yau, Yui-Pan1; Lee, Lik Hang2; Li, Zheng3;
Organizations: 1Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong
2Center for Ubiquitous Computing, The University of Oulu, Finland
3Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong and Fudan University, Shanghai, China
4Department of Computer Science, The University of Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Computing Machinery, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-26


Flying drones have become common objects in our daily lives, serving a multitude of purposes. Many of these purposes involve outdoor scenarios where the user combines drone control with another activity. Traditional interaction methods rely on physical or virtual joysticks that occupy both hands, thus restricting drone usability. In this paper, we investigate one-handed human-to-drone-interaction by leveraging three modalities: force, touch, and IMU. After prototyping three different combinations of these modalities on a smartphone, we evaluate them against the current commercial standard through two user experiments. These experiments help us to find the combination of modalities that strikes a compromise between user performance, perceived task load, wrist rotation, and interaction area size. Accordingly, we select a method that achieves faster task completion times than the two-handed commercial baseline by 16.54% with the merits of subtle user behaviours inside a small-size ring-form device and implements this method within the ring-form device. The last experiment involving 12 participants shows that thanks to its small size and weight, the ring device displays better performance than the same method implemented on a mobile phone. Furthermore, users unanimously found the device useful for controlling a drone in mobile scenarios (AVG = 3.92/5), easy to use (AVG = 3.58/5) and easy to learn (AVG = 3.58/5). Our findings give significant design clues in search of subtle and effective interaction through finger augmentation devices with drone control. The users with our prototypical system and a multi-modal on-finger device can control a drone with subtle wrist rotation (pitch gestures: 43.24° amplitude and roll gestures: 46.35° amplitude) and unnoticeable thumb presses within a miniature-sized area of (1.08 * 0.61 cm2).

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Series: Proceedings of the ACM on interactive, mobile, wearable and ubiquitous technologies
ISSN: 2474-9567
ISSN-E: 2474-9567
ISSN-L: 2474-9567
Volume: 4
Issue: 2
Article number: 63
DOI: 10.1145/3397319
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This research has been supported in part by the Academy of Finland 6Genesis Flagship (grant 318927)/ 5GEAR & project 16214817 from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 318927
Detailed Information: 318927 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies,