Browse Prior Art Database

Visual Warbling to Subtly Indicate Status Conditions

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000122939D
Original Publication Date: 1998-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-04
Document File: 4 page(s) / 166K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Hutson, WE: AUTHOR [+1]

Abstract

Underlying the applications, more and more people today are using middleware which connects people to networks and servers. Although many network connections are fairly stable (e.g., LAN), some, such as wireless connections to networks can be unreliable. Wireless users typically need feedback on such things as connectivity status (connected or disconnected), and strength of connection (e.g., signal strength of 34%). Below is a list of things that can hurt availability when mobile and/or wireless: o Connectivity (yes or no) o Connectivity strength (signal strength) o Connectivity speed (degraded connections might lower speed) o Modem battery strength o System battery strength o Node or link down (server/gateway problems)

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Visual Warbling to Subtly Indicate Status Conditions

      Underlying the applications, more and more people today are
using middleware which connects people to networks and servers.
Although many network connections are fairly stable (e.g., LAN),
some, such as wireless connections to networks can be unreliable.
Wireless users typically need feedback on such things as connectivity
status (connected  or disconnected), and strength of connection
(e.g., signal strength of  34%).  Below is a list of things that can
hurt availability when mobile  and/or wireless:
  o  Connectivity (yes or no)
  o  Connectivity strength (signal strength)
  o  Connectivity speed (degraded connections might lower speed)
  o  Modem battery strength
  o  System battery strength
  o  Node or link down (server/gateway problems)

      While connected, people use applications to do their work.  Any
background screen and system elements such as middleware should
typically be as unobtrusive as possible, unless there is a problem
with the connection.  However, much middleware displays connectivity
status in dedicated and continuously-displayed windows or access
bars.  This takes  up screen space and competes for the user's
attention even when there is  nothing wrong with a connection, which
is the typical connectivity state  even for relatively unreliable
wireless connections.  Another problem with this is application users
should focus on the application they are  working with, not on any of
the underlying supportive middleware or background display elements.
At the moments when they do need to get connectivity status they are
most likely to be absorbed in trying to use  their applications.

      Existing computer programs which alter the brightness of a
display element to indicate status do so in an obligatory way with
flashing.  Task bar buttons and title bars might flash on and off
(e.g., Windows' Freecell, NetView GMF).  However, flashing display
elements on  and off is very distracting.  Users have a hard time
attending to anything else other than the flashing.  For status
conditions which could  last a long period of time and are not high
severity, such as a poor connection or a low battery, this could hurt
user productivity.  Fig. 1  shows a graph of how abruptly current
applications typically vary the color attributes of a display element
over time to give the user a status  condition.

      Continuously and smoothly cycle the color attributes (e.g.,
visual intensity) of a display element up and down to indicate status
condition.  For example, instead of displaying attention...