Zooming User Interfaces

For the last decade the MRL has lead research efforts in Zooming User Interfaces (ZUIs). These interfaces create an intuitive information landscape - the user moves "further away" to get an overview, or "closer" for more detail, while keeping a sense of orientation and structure that traditional "pop-up" windows and dialogues can't match.

Following Ken Perlin's initial "Pad" project (and patent with Prof. Jack Schwartz), a number of systems have been developed. "Pad++" was developed in collaboration with Prof. Ben Bederson and Prof. James Hollan at the University of New Mexico, and resulted in a non-exclusive license to the Sony corporation. "Tabula Rasa" was developed by Prof. Perlin's early Pad collaborator David Fox, and made dramatic advances on the "magic lenses" they presented in their 1993 SIGGRAPH paper on Pad. Jon Meyer, NYU's lead developer on Pad++, later developed a Zooming Graphics Library, allowing zooming Java applications to take advantage of OpenGL hardware. Zooming content systems have also been developed, including Prof. Philip Benfey's "BioPad" (for explaining the development of _Aribidopsis thaliana_), and Noah Wardrip-Fruin's "Gray Matters" (a storytelling system that first demonstrated a method of zooming navigation suitable for single-button mice or touch screens).

Ongoing MRL work in this area includes ZUIs for the web and handheld devices, with uses ranging from complex software controls to authoring and reading structured documents. Current collaborators include the Human-Computer Interaction Lab of the University of Maryland (where Ben Bederson is now Director) and the Scholarly Technology Group of Brown University.

Zooming Pad Demo

Pad Web Navigation Demo


PAD patent