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Prospective Motor Control on Tabletops: Planning Grasp for Multitouch Interaction

Experimental task scenario: The task requires the user to (b) grab the green object with the thumb and the index finger, (c) move it towards the red target and then align
it with it, and (d) hold the object in the target to (e) complete the task. Our experiments showed that users prepare their initial grasp based on the start as well as the
target position and orientation of the virtual object.


Substantial amount of research in Psychology has studied how people manipulate objects in the physical world. This work has unveiled that people show strong signs of prospective motor planning, i.e., they choose initial grasps that avoid uncomfortable end postures and facilitate object manipulation. Interactive tabletops allow their users great flexibility in the manipulation of virtual objects but to our knowledge previous work has never examined whether prospective motor control takes place in this context. To test this, we ran three experiments. We systematically studied how users adapt their grasp when asked to translate and rotate virtual objects on a multitouch tabletop. Our results demonstrate that target position and orientation significantly affect the orientation of finger placement on the object. We analyze our results in the light of the most recent model of planning for manipulating physical objects and identify their implications for the design of tabletop interfaces.


Halla Olafsdottir, Theophanis Tsandilas and Caroline Appert (2014) Prospective Motor Control on Tabletops: Planning Grasp for Multitouch Interaction. In CHI '14: Proceedings of the 32nd international conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, pages 2893-2902. (google)


  1. Teaser video
  2. Summary video

Experimental data

We provide the raw log data from the three experiments:

Read the README.txt for instructions. Details about the experimental design can be found in the CHI publication.