Proceedings: GI 2013

Effects of hand drift while typing on touchscreens

Frank Li , Leah Findlater , Khai Truong

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2013: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 29 - 31 May 2013, 95-98

DOI 10.20380/GI2013.13

  • Bibtex

    author = {Li, Frank and Findlater, Leah and Truong, Khai},
    title = {Effects of hand drift while typing on touchscreens},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2013},
    series = {GI 2013},
    year = {2013},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-4822-1680-6},
    location = {Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada},
    pages = {95--98},
    numpages = {4},
    doi = {10.20380/GI2013.13},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


On a touchscreen keyboard, it can be difficult to continuously type without frequently looking at the keys. One factor contributing to this difficulty is called hand drift, where a user's hands gradually misalign with the touchscreen keyboard due to limited tactile feedback. Although intuitive, there remains a lack of empirical data to describe the effect of hand drift. A formal understanding of it can provide insights for improving soft keyboards. To formally quantify the degree (magnitude and direction) of hand drift, we conducted a 3-session study with 13 participants. We measured hand drift with two typing interfaces: a visible conventional keyboard and an invisible adaptive keyboard. To expose drift patterns, both keyboards used relaxed letter disambiguation to allow for unconstrained movement. Findings show that hand drift occurred in both interfaces, at an average rate of 0.25mm/min on the conventional keyboard and 1.32mm/min on the adaptive keyboard. Participants were also more likely to drift up and/or left instead of down or right.