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System and method that facilitates computer desktop use via scaling of displayed objects

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System and method that facilitates computer desktop use via scaling of displayed objects


The techniques described herein provide user interface(s) for managing display objects on a display surface. The techniques define a central focus area where the display objects are displayed and behave as usual, and a periphery outside the focus area where the display objects are reduced in size based on their location, getting smaller as they near an edge of the display surface so that many more objects can remain visible.

Browse recent Microsoft Corporation patents - Redmond, WA, US
Inventors: George G. Robertson, Eric J. Horvitz, Daniel C. Robbins, Gregory R. Smith, Mary P. Czerwinski, Patrick Markus Baudisch
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120290973 - Class: 715801 (USPTO) - 11/15/12 - Class 715 
Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing > Operator Interface (e.g., Graphical User Interface) >On-screen Workspace Or Object >Window Or Viewpoint >Layout Modification (e.g., Move Or Resize) >Resizing (e.g., Scaling) >Contained Object Scale Change

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120290973, System and method that facilitates computer desktop use via scaling of displayed objects.

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PRIORITY CLAIM

This application is a continuation of and claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/374,351, filed Feb. 25, 2003 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 8,230,359, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to user interfaces, and more particularly to a graphical user interface, data structure and method to facilitate management of data.

BACKGROUND

Various graphical user interfaces have been developed to provide a rich experience for computer users. Computer programs typically provide a graphical user interface (GUI) to facilitate data entry, to enable viewing output on a display screen, as well as to manipulate or rearrange data. A graphical user interface can be associated with an application program or operating system shell, which may be running on a user\'s local machine and/or remotely, such as in a distributing computing system or over the Internet.

In view of continuing technological developments and increasing use of the Internet, people are using computers to access information to an ever-increasing extent. Such information can reside locally on the person\'s computer or within a local network or be global in scope, such as over the Internet.

Users of window-based graphical user interfaces face difficult problems when they employ a same machine for multiple tasks or activities—they often have a large number of windows to manage, with many windows for each task. Switching between tasks is difficult because the windows often can be scattered around. Moreover, if windows are minimized while not in use, they are typically not organized together. If not minimized, a user can be faced with a difficult task of locating all relevant obscured windows and bringing them to a top of a display.

When users begin employing large display configurations (e.g., multiple monitors), managing windows and tasks becomes an ever more difficult problem, because minimized windows are kept in a location that may be significantly distant from where they will be used. Managing many display objects on small displays (e.g., PDA\'s) is also difficult—in such case, oftentimes sufficient screen space is not available to display objects of interest.

Although various attempts have been made via conventional user interface schemes to address some of the aforementioned concerns, there is still a substantial unmet need for a system and/or methodology that facilitates efficient use of valuable computer desktop real estate in a multi-task working environment.

SUMMARY

The following presents a simplified summary of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. It is not intended to identify key/critical elements of the invention or to delineate the scope of the invention. Its sole purpose is to present some concepts of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later.

The subject invention relates to a system and/or method that provides for interaction technique(s) and user interface(s) in connection with managing display objects on a display surface. One aspect of the invention defines a central focus area where the display objects are displayed and behave as usual, and a periphery outside the focus area where the display objects are reduced in size based on their location, getting smaller as they near an edge of the display surface so that many more objects can remain visible. In addition or alternatively, the objects can fade and/or become increasingly transparent as they move toward an edge—fading increasing as a function of distance from the focus area and/or use of the object and/or priority of the object. Objects in the periphery can also be modified to have different interaction behavior (e.g., lower refresh rate, fading, reconfigured to display sub-objects based on relevance and/or visibility, static, . . . ) since they may be too small for standard techniques.

The invention can be implemented in connection with any suitable display area (e.g., large display surfaces, standard display surfaces and small, for example PDA, displays as well). The invention has wide applicability to window and task management in a multi-task computing environment, for example. In such case, display objects are typically windows although they can be objects (e.g., documents, presentations, media, pictures, audio files, video files . . . ) as well. In the focus area, the windows can have a standard appearance and behavior. When the display objects cross into a periphery of the focus area, the objects reduce in size and the behavior can change to a much simpler set of interactions. For example, refresh rate of the windows can be made a function of size and/or distance from the focus area. In addition or alternatively, the windows outside of the periphery can become static until repositioned into the focus area.

By grouping windows in the periphery into clusters, and supporting cluster operations (e.g., move all cluster windows into the focus area, or move windows in the focus area back to their peripheral location), the invention significantly facilitates task management, allowing user(s) to easily swap from one task (or activity) to another.

Another aspect of the invention provides for employing computer-based intelligence (e.g., inference, probabilistic determination, statistical determination, machine learning . . . ) that can move the display objects as a function of activity and/or priority associated therewith. For example, display objects that have not been used for a predetermined period of time can be made to drift from the focus area to the edge of the display space. Likewise, size of the display object can also be automatically adjusted as a function of various pre-defined and/or learned metrics. Moreover, based on computer-based inference as to a user desired display of object(s), object(s) can automatically be moved to the focus area for interaction therewith based at least upon predetermined and/or learned metrics associated with user use and inferred intentions.

It is to be appreciated that the subject invention is not limited to window and/or task management, but can work for any suitable kind of display objects. For example, the invention can be employed in connection with photo management.

One particular aspect of the invention relates to a notion of automated, patterned, canonical display object (e.g., window) motion given enlargement or opening of indicia at a center of focus. A concept behind such notion is the idea that the invention can include flexible policies for effecting shifts of multiple display objects so as to automatically move older, less active objects into a periphery—and to pop them back when those objects go away.

Another particular aspect of the invention relates to a notion of fundamental transitions or phases of transition that can be discontinuous, also to maintain, in a substantially continuous manner scaling properties associated therewith. In such case, a minimum density or resolution of an object can be established as a threshold and the object can be rendered into a different, potentially less visually accessible representation—and the object(s) can be re-rendered when other object(s) are closed. Thus, the subject invention can provide for several multilevel transitions, including continuous and potentially discontinuous transitions.

Yet another aspect of the invention provides for continuously adding more objects and a mechanism for automatically shifting and moving off and on objects, in a manner that keeps the respective objects on a screen usable (e.g., above a particular resolution). The invention also provides a means for implicitly returning to similar state(s) as newer objects are closed.

Another aspect of the invention relates to display object occlusion avoidance within a display area (e.g., focus area, periphery or progressive shrink area)—such aspect of the invention mitigates objects from obscuring one another. An extension of this aspect relates to cluster occlusion avoidance which mitigates clusters from obscuring other clusters as well as mitigating merging (e.g., since clustering can be proximity based) of clusters as a result of moving clusters.

Thus, the subject invention mitigates many of the aforementioned windows and task management problems by keeping windows open but making them much smaller when they are not in use. By doing so, it becomes possible to maintain a large number of windows around the periphery of the display. Task management is supported by placing windows into clusters that represent tasks and adding some simple mechanisms for task switching. Human spatial memory can be used to facilitate locating a desired window or task. The invention also mitigates a display object management problem for small displays, because the objects in the periphery take so little space.

To the accomplishment of the foregoing and related ends, certain illustrative aspects of the invention are described herein in connection with the following description and the annexed drawings. These aspects are indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed and the present invention is intended to include all such aspects and their equivalents. Other advantages and novel features of the invention may become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a general block diagram of a display system in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 2-4 illustrate a display space having a stable region (e.g., focus area) and a progressive shrink region in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 5-13 illustrate a display object changing behavior in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 14-17 illustrate a web page window object changing behavior in accordance with the subject invention.

FIG. 18 illustrates a plurality of display objects and behavior thereof in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 19-20 illustrate a plurality of display objects and behavior thereof in connection with a small device (e.g., PDA) display in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 21-39 illustrate an optional aspect of transition of display objects off of screen (e.g., to side bar) to another iconic form in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 40-47 illustrate a focus region and/or progressive shrink region be configurable in accordance with the subject invention.

FIGS. 48-68 illustrate various aspects of the invention relating to modifying behavior of certain secondary objects as a function of modification to a primary object, and various embodiments for modifying behavior of display objects to facilitate a user experience in accordance with the subject invention.

FIG. 69 illustrates a block diagram of a computer operable to execute the disclosed architecture.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is now described with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It may be evident, however, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to facilitate describing the present invention.

As used in this application, the terms “component” and “system” are intended to refer to a computer-related entity, either hardware, a combination of hardware and software, software, or software in execution. For example, a component may be, but is not limited to being, a process running on a processor, a processor, an object, an executable, a thread of execution, a program, and/or a computer. By way of illustration, both an application running on a server and the server can be a component. One or more components may reside within a process and/or thread of execution and a component may be localized on one computer and/or distributed between two or more computers.

The subject invention can incorporate various inference schemes and/or techniques in connection with scaling and/or modifying behavior of display objects. As used herein, the term “inference” refers generally to the process of reasoning about or inferring states of the system, environment, and/or user from a set of observations as captured via events and/or data. Inference can be employed to identify a specific context or action, or can generate a probability distribution over states, for example. The inference can be probabilistic—that is, the computation of a probability distribution over states of interest based on a consideration of data and events. Inference can also refer to techniques employed for composing higher-level events from a set of events and/or data. Such inference results in the construction of new events or actions from a set of observed events and/or stored event data, whether or not the events are correlated in close temporal proximity, and whether the events and data come from one or several event and data sources.

FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic representation of an aspect of a system 100 that facilitates controlling display object behavior in accordance with the subject invention. A display component 110 effects rendering of display objects on a display space (not shown). The display space is typically a screen in connection with a computing system or device (e.g., desktop computer, laptop computer, personal data assistant, wireless telephone, television, . . . ). The system 100 further comprises a focus area component 120, a scaling component 130 and a behavior component 140. It is to be appreciated that some or all of these components can be part of a single component and/or comprise a plurality of sub-components to affect various aspects of the subject invention. The focus area component 120 provides for defining a stable region or focus area (see e.g., reference number 160 at FIG. 2). The focus area component 120 can also define a progressive shrink area (see e.g., reference number 170 at FIG. 2) which is typically located about an outside periphery of the focus area.

The scaling component 130 provides for selectively scaling attributes of a display object as a function of location of the display object within the display space. For example, when display object(s) are within the focus area 160 the display objects are displayed and behave as usual. When display objects are moved outside of the focus area 160 into the progressive shrink region 170, the display objects can be reduced in size based on their location, getting smaller as they near an edge of the display surface so that many more objects can remain visible. It is to be appreciated the display object(s) can be moved outside of and into the focus area manually (e.g., via a user employing a mouse), and it is contemplated that display object(s) can be automatically moved outside of and into the focus area by the system 100. Automatic action (e.g., relocating of objects) can be taken as a function of the system 100 inferring a user\'s intentions with respect to manipulating display object(s). With respect to taking automatic action, machine learning techniques can be implemented to facilitate performing automatic action. Moreover, utility based analyses (e.g., factoring benefit of taking correct automatic action versus costs of taking incorrect action) can be incorporated into performing the automatic action.

The behavior component 140 can provide for modifying behavior of display objects in accordance with the subject invention. For example, display object(s) located within the focus area 160 can behave in a standard manner with full functionality. When display object(s) are located outside of the focus area 160, functionality associated with the display object(s) can be modified. For example, refresh rates of the display object(s) can be modified as a function of proximity to the focus area 160 and/or to an edge of the display space. In other words, objects in the periphery can also be modified to have different interaction behavior (e.g., lower refresh rate, static, . . . ) since they may be too small for standard techniques. In addition or alternatively, the objects can fade as they move toward an edge—fading increasing as a function of distance from the focus area and/or use of the object and/or priority of the object.

Beyond smooth manipulation of such aforementioned homogenous graphical properties with moves to the periphery, the subject invention can also facilitate richer notions of compression with the diminishing of size of objects, including compression with selective elision of unimportant components of an object and the selective sizing of multiple components, so as to maximize likelihood that the object would still be recognizable in its reduced formulation. For example, key headings and distinctive figures might be reduced proportionally less than distinctive objects with the decreasing size of objects. Moreover, the number of display object(s) within the display space as well as within the respective sections (e.g., focus area, and progressive shrink area) can be factored into modifying behavior of the display object(s). The behavior component 140 can apply any suitable number of and/or combination of metrics (e.g., processing overhead, display space, number of display objects, relative location of display objects, priority associated with respective display objects, time of day, user state . . . ) in connection with modifying display object behavior in accordance with the subject invention.

As noted above, the invention also can provide for object occlusion avoidance within a display area (e.g., focus area, periphery or progressive shrink area)—such aspect of the invention mitigates objects from obscuring one another. An extension of this aspect relates to cluster occlusion avoidance which mitigates clusters from obscuring other clusters as well as mitigating merging (e.g., since clustering can be proximity based) of clusters as a result of moving clusters. These features are discussed in greater detail infra.

The system 100 also includes a data store 141 that can be employed to store information (e.g., historical data, user profile data, display object data, system data, state information, algorithms, databases, display object current and/or previous state data, user current and/or previous state info. multiple user info., task-related data . . . ) in connection with the subject invention.

The system 100 can optionally include an artificial intelligence (AI) 144 that can facilitate automatically performing various aspects (e.g., modifying behavior of display object(s), scaling of display object(s), changing size and/or location of focus areas, changing size and/or location of progressive shrink areas, changing geometries of respective focus areas, changing geometries of respective progressive shrink areas, turning on and off functionalities associated with display objects, focus areas, progressive shrink areas, side bars . . . ) of the subject invention as described herein. The AI component can optionally include an inference component that can further enhance automated aspects of the AI component utilizing in part inference based schemes to facilitate inferring intended actions to be performed at a given time and state. The AI-based aspects of the invention can be effected via any suitable machine-learning based technique and/or statistical-based techniques and/or probabilistic-based techniques. For example, the use of expert systems, fuzzy logic, support vector machines, greedy search algorithms, rule-based systems, Bayesian models (e.g., Bayesian networks), neural networks, other non-linear training techniques, data fusion, utility-based analytical systems, systems employing Bayesian models, . . . are contemplated and are intended to fall within the scope of the hereto appended claims.

Although for ease of understanding, only a single focus area, progressive shrink area and display area are shown, it is to be appreciated that multiples of any and all of these areas is contemplated and intended to fall within the scope of the hereto appended claims. For example, more than one focus area can exist with a display space, and locations of such focus areas can be defined as desired. Moreover, functionality of respective focus areas can differ respectively (e.g., so as to optimize multi-tasking). Likewise, multiple progressive shrink areas can be defined, and functionality (e.g., with respect to modifying display object behavior) can be varied as desired.

The subject invention will now be described with respect to many figures that are intended to emphasize various generalizable aspects of the subject invention—it is to be noted that these figures are not intended to be exhaustive of the novel features of the subject invention but rather are meant to be examples of a set of generalizations in accordance with the subject invention. One particular aspect of the invention relates to a notion of automated, patterned, canonical display object (e.g., window) motion given enlargement or opening of indicia at a center of focus. A concept behind such notion is the idea that the invention can serve as a “scalable fabric,” to reconfigure one or more objects on a display surface, based on automatic or semi-automatic reconfiguration of the sizing and or position of multiple displayed objects, in reaction to the addition, deletion, and movement of objects (e.g., windows) by users or automated processes. Display surfaces that gracefully scale to hold increasing numbers of items, while still providing detail to users about important objects, can be supported by flexible policies for effecting shifts of multiple display objects so as to automatically move older, less active objects into a periphery—and to pop them back when those objects go away. Some of the following discussed figures capture a physical “pressure model” but it is to be appreciated that other suitable models can be employed and are intended to fall within the scope of the hereto appended claims.

Another concept is a notion of fundamental transitions or phases of transition that can be discontinuous, also to maintain, in a substantially continuous manner scaling properties associated therewith. In such case, a minimum density or resolution of an object can be established as a threshold and the object can be rendered into a different, potentially less visually accessible representation—and the object(s) can be re-rendered when other object(s) are closed. Thus, the subject invention can provide for several multilevel transitions, including continuous and potentially discontinuous transitions.

The subject invention provides for continuously adding more objects and a mechanism for automatically shifting and moving off and on objects, in a manner that keeps the respective objects on a screen usable (e.g., above a particular resolution). The invention also provides a means for implicitly returning to similar state(s) as newer objects are closed.

FIGS. 3-13 illustrate a stable region (focus region) 160 and a periphery region (e.g., progressive shrink region) 170 and a display object 190 changing behavior based on at least location within a display space 150 in accordance with the subject invention. It is to be appreciated that the periphery of the stable region 160 can be demarcated with an outline (e.g., dashed line) or made invisible based upon user preference. Moreover, if desired the stable region 160 can have a different background or wallpaper than that of the progressive shrink region 170 if desired. As shown in FIG. 4, scaling of display objects can be based on a function of distance from the focus area 160 and/or an edge 180 of the display area. Moreover, the scaling can be a function of a variety of predetermined and/or learned metrics as discussed in part supra. It is to be appreciated that initiation of scaling of display objects can be affected as a function of a variety of physical parameters with respect to display object(s) and relative location to the focus area 160 and/or edge 180. For example, scaling can be initiated as soon as any portion of a display object crosses a periphery of the focus area 160. Alternatively, scaling can be effected as a function of distance from a midpoint (or other reference point) of the focus area 160. Scaling could also be effected as a function of speed of movement of display object(s) and/or relative center if mass. Scaling could also be initiated as a function of size of display object(s) and display area constraints so as to facilitate optimization of valuable display space real estate.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120290973 A1
Publish Date
11/15/2012
Document #
13553266
File Date
07/19/2012
USPTO Class
715801
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06F3/048
Drawings
70



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