The importance of the number of degrees of freedom for rotation of objects
In an experiment input methods for object rotation with differing degrees of freedom were assessed. The results are relevant for human- computer interfacing, not only for the finger tip controlled interface proposed in this paper but also for evaluation of existing approaches to rotation. When designing an interface with finger tip controlled rotation of virtual objects, for technical reasons the number of finger tips to be registered should be minimized. Performance of subjects who rotated real objects with different numbers of finger tips was assessed. Subjects rotated a transparent sphere encasing an object according to their personal preference, with three, two or one finger, and restricted to three orthogonal axes. The latter reflects rotation in much current 3D software, whereby only one rotational degree of freedom (DOF) is accessible at a time. Performance in the three and two finger conditions did not differ significantly from the free condition, whilst performance with one finger and orthogonally restricted was significantly lower. However, only the three finger condition was rated as comfortable as the free condition, whilst the two finger, one finger and orthogonally restricted conditions were rated as less comfortable. It is argued that the number of DOFS which can be accessed simultaneously is an important design consideration when quick and intuitive rotation is to be achieved.