Mobile errors affect all

Researchers at Manchester University have found that able-bodied people make errors when typing and ‘mousing’ on mobile phones.

Researchers at Manchester University, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), have found that able-bodied people make errors when typing and ‘mousing’ on mobile phones similar to physically impaired users of desktop computers.

According to researchers in the School of Computer Science working on the Reciprocal Interoperability between Accessible and Mobile Webs (RIAM) project, mobile owners press the wrong key and press the same key repeatedly by mistake. They also found mobile users tend to click the wrong area of the screen, click the screen multiple times in error, and make mistakes when trying to drag and drop information.

Senior researcher Dr Yeliz Yesilada said: ‘These types of errors have been a big problem for physically impaired users for a long time. But solutions have been developed for all of these problems in the form of small assistive computer programmes, which supplement Windows and Mac operating systems.’

The study re-analysed earlier work by scientists EdinburghUniversitywho had looked into the problems of physically disabled users. They then re-ran the experiments with mobile users and found that a significant correlation existed between the two user groups.

Researcher Tianyi Chen said: ‘In recent years solutions have been built to help disabled users and it is hoped these solutions which can now be applied for the benefit of mobile phone users. By using solutions developed for disabled users we can help handset manufacturers, such as Nokia and Sony, to reduce the time we all spend correcting errors on our mobiles.’

He added: ‘Software already developed for PC users with disabilities could automatically correct erroneous commands and help reduce those annoying times when you accidentally cancel a text message or call someone by sitting on your phone.’

The two-year RIAM project is supported by £205,000 funding from the EPSRC.