Empirical investigation into the effect of orientation on text readability in tabletop displays
Tabletop collaborative groupware is a newly re-emerging field in CSCW. The use of a tabletop display presents a unique challenge to interface designers: how to optimally orient displayed objects for viewing and manipulation by users situated at various locations around the table. A great deal of CSCW research has been conducted under the implicit assumption that textual elements should be oriented directly toward the reader, despite research that demonstrates that a simple, straight-on orientation is not necessarily ideal in all circumstances. Absent from this ongoing research dialogue, however, has been an empirical examination of user performance of reading text on tabletop displays at non-zero orientations. In this paper, we present two studies which examine the effect of text orientation on common tasks: the reading of a small piece of text, and the serial search for a label. We found that, though statistically significant, the effects of orientation on the performance of these tasks were less dramatic than might have previously been assumed. From this, we hope to help guide collaborative groupware designers as to when orientation should be “corrected”.