(19)
(11)EP 2 597 560 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
23.12.2020 Bulletin 2020/52

(21)Application number: 12191884.1

(22)Date of filing:  08.11.2012
(51)Int. Cl.: 
G06F 3/0488  (2013.01)

(54)

Information processing device and information processing method using graphical user interface, and data structure of content file

Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung und Informationsverarbeitungsverfahren unter Verwendung einer grafischen Benutzerschnittstelle und Datenstruktur einer Inhaltsdatei

Dispositif de traitement d'informations et procédé de traitement d'informations au moyen d'une interface graphique utilisateur et structure de données d'un fichier de contenu


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 28.11.2011 JP 2011259554

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.05.2013 Bulletin 2013/22

(73)Proprietors:
  • Sony Corporation
    Tokyo 108-0075 (JP)
  • Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.
    Tokyo 108-0075 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Kitao, Takashi
    Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075 (JP)
  • Hyodo, Katsuya
    Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075 (JP)
  • Mochizuki, Arito
    Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075 (JP)

(74)Representative: D Young & Co LLP 
120 Holborn
London EC1N 2DY
London EC1N 2DY (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 385 689
WO-A1-00/38042
US-A1- 2007 097 096
US-A1- 2011 102 464
EP-A2- 2 290 515
JP-A- 2011 134 127
US-A1- 2011 084 922
US-B1- 6 411 283
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention relates to an information processing device, for example (though not exclusively) for performing information processing accompanied by display of images, an information processing method used in the device, and a data structure of a content file.

    [0002] Recently, information devices designed for mobile use such as mobile game devices, cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDA), tablet terminals, etc. are popularly used. Due to size constraints and requirement for convenience that should be experienced in mobile use, input means for these devices is limited. As a result, unique input means and functions specialized for these devices have been developed.

    [0003] For example, this has resulted in popularity of devices provided with a touch panel display that allows display and input in the same area. Introduction of a touch panel allows intuitive user operation. For example, the user can select and move an object such as an icon, enlarge/reduce a display screen showing a web page or a document, scroll the screen, turn pages, etc. as if the real thing is there in spite of the fact that only a two-dimensional screen is shown.

    [0004] Regardless of whether a touch panel is used as an input means, it is common to display a graphical user interface (GUI) to start an application program and select a target of display, etc.. For reasons of operability and viewability, there is an inherent limit to the reduction of the size of individual GUI's. Therefore, the smaller the screen size and the larger the number of GUI's displayed at a time, the smaller the interval between GUI's tends to be. This often results in an error particularly when the touch panel is controlled by a finger for user operation. For example, the user may select a GUI not intended to be selected. It has also forced creators of content displayed on the device to adjust the arrangement of hit determination areas of GUI's depending on the display environment.

    [0005] Previously proposed arrangements are disclosed in WO 00/38042: a method of determining which touchable item depicted on a computer touch screen to select for an imprecise touch is disclosed as including the steps of identifying all potentially selected touchable items for the imprecise touch, calculating a probability of intended selection for each potentially selected touchable item, and selecting the potentially selected touchable item having the greatest calculated probability of intended selection. The identifying step includes determining which touchable items depicted on the computer touch screen overlap with the imprecise touch. The probability of intended selection is a function of a distance between a center-point of the imprecise touch and a center-point for each potentially selected touchable item and/or a function of an overlap area between the imprecise touch and each potentially selected touchable item. The selecting step further includes comparing the calculated probability of intended selection for each potentially selected touchable item and determining whether the potentially selected touchable item having the greatest calculated probability of intended selection is greater than the calculated probability of intended selection for the other potentially selected touchable items by a predetermined amount.

    [0006] The present invention addresses the above-described issue and a purpose of at least embodiments thereof is to provide a technology capable of maintaining the operability experienced in selecting a GUI, regardless of the environment such as the device.

    [0007] The invention is defined in the appended claims. Further embodiments of the invention are defined by the dependent claims.

    [0008] One aspect of the present invention relates to an information processing device.

    [0009] Another aspect of the present invention relates to an information processing method.

    [0010] Still another aspect of the present invention relates to a data structure of a content file.

    [0011] Embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings which are meant to be exemplary, not limiting, and wherein like elements are numbered alike in several Figures, in which:

    Fig. 1 shows the appearance of the information processing device according to an embodiment;

    Fig. 2 shows the structure of the information processing device according to the embodiment in further detail;

    Fig. 3 is a flowchart showing the steps of acknowledging input for selecting a GUI in the information processing device according to the embodiment;

    Fig. 4 shows an exemplary process performed by the user operation content identification unit according to the embodiment in the event of a touch operation;

    Fig. 5 shows a method of determining the inclination of the shape of a 'V' formed by the points of contact according to the embodiment;

    Fig. 6 shows exemplary data described in the contact point generation rule configuration file in order to generate virtual points of contact according to the embodiment;

    Fig. 7 shows another exemplary rule for generating virtual points of contact according to the embodiment; and

    Fig. 8 is a flowchart showing the steps whereby the user operation content identification unit selects one of a plurality of hit GUI's.



    [0012] The invention will now be described by reference to the preferred embodiments. This does not intend to limit the scope of the present invention, but to exemplify the invention.

    [0013] Fig. 1 shows the appearance of the information processing device according to an embodiment. The information processing device 10 may be any device built with display functions and other information processing functions, such as a cell phone, a PDA, a mobile game device, and a tablet terminal. Alternatively, a device having the appearance of the information processing device 10 shown in Fig. 1 may be used to display images and acknowledge input. The other information processing functions may be provided in a separate housing connected to the device. The information processing device 10 may be provided with various processing hardware depending on the required functions. Common technology may be used to implement the hardware so that a description thereof will be omitted.

    [0014] The information processing device 10 is structured such that a display 14 is located on the front face of the device and a touch panel 12 covers the display 14. Hardware necessary for information processing such as a CPU, a graphics processor, a sound processor, and a memory is built behind the display 14 (not shown). The display 14 may be any common display such as a liquid crystal display, an electronic luminescence (EL) display, and a plasma display.

    [0015] The touch panel 12 may be of any of practically used types such as resistance film type, optical type, and capacitive coupling type. A point of contact by a finger 7 or a stylus pen is detected by the touch panel 12. In addition, the information processing device 10 may be provided with a speaker for outputting sound, an earphone terminal, an infrared port or wireless LAN hardware for communication with other devices, and a battery box, etc.. Illustration of these is omitted. The display 14 displays a menu screen, a screen necessary to provide user operation input such as icon arrangement, a screen showing results of information processing such as a game screen, a moving image screen, a text display screen, and a still image screen, depending on the functions of the information processing device 10.

    [0016] Fig. 2 shows the structure of the information processing device 10 in further detail. In addition to the touch panel 12 and the display 14 described above, the information processing device 10 includes a sensor 15 for acquiring necessary information such as the position of a finger, a content storage unit 16 storing content programs and various data, an input and output control unit 20 for controlling reception of an input signal from the touch panel 12 and the sensor 15 and output of image data to the display 14, a user operation content identification unit 22 for converting an input signal from the touch panel into information indicating the content of user operation, a content processing unit 24 for processing content depending on the content of user operation, and a display image generation unit 30 for generating a display image.

    [0017] The elements depicted in Fig. 2 as functional blocks for performing various processes are implemented by hardware such as a CPU, a main memory, or other LSI's, and by software such as a programs etc., for processing content and images. Therefore, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the functional blocks may be implemented in a variety of manners by hardware only, software only, or a combination of thereof.

    [0018] The sensor 15 may be implemented by a touch panel provided on the rear face of the information processing device 10, a sensor provided on the display 14 and capturing a shadow or figure of a finger, etc. located above the display 14 as an image, or an acceleration sensor or a gyro sensor provided inside the device to sense the angle of the tilt of the display 14. As described later, the sensor 15 is provided to collect auxiliary information to improve precision of processing and may not be provided depending on the case.

    [0019] The input and output control unit 20 is connected to the touch panel 12, the display 14, and the sensor 15 in a known method and controls input and output of data. The input signal received from the touch panel 12 indicates the coordinates of a point of contact by the user on the touch panel 12, a migration path of the coordinates occurring when the point of contact moves continuously, etc. Methods of detecting a point of contact on the touch panel 12 vary depending on the type and will not be discussed here. Touch-style user operation on the touch panel 12 may be performed by a body part other than a finger or by a tool like a stylus pen but will be exemplified below by a finger operation. The input and output control unit 20 also receives data acquired by the sensor 15 or outputs a video signal of a display image to the display 14.

    [0020] The content file storage unit 16 stores various data necessary for information processing for displaying content in accordance with, for example, the user's touch panel operation. The "content" is exemplified by computer games, movies, music, novels, photos, maps, web pages, or menu screens for organizing the content. The type of content and the channel of storing data are non-limiting so long as a subject can be represented by electronic processes. Other than common "content", the embodiment can be applied to information processing in general such as communication, schedule management, address list management, spreadsheet, etc., which will also be referred to as "content" in the following description.

    [0021] For example, if the content is a game, the content storage unit 16 stores a game program, player information, level reached in a previous play, etc. If the content is a movie or music, the content storage unit 16 stores compression-coded video and audio data, a program for decoding and playing back the data, etc. The content storage unit 16 also stores image data for a graphical user interface necessary to display or process the content, and GUI arrangement information. The content file storage unit 16 may be a hard disk drive, or a combination of a removable recording medium such as a memory card, a ROM disk, an optical disk, and a magneto-optical disk and an associated reading device.

    [0022] The user operation content identification unit 22 acquires an input signal from the touch panel 12 via the input and output control unit 20. The user operation content identification unit 22 identifies the content of user control intended by the user by referring to the coordinates of a point of contact included in the signal. For example, if the user touches a point on the touch panel 12 and moves the point of contact, the user operation content identification unit 22 identifies it as a screen scroll operation. If a GUI is displayed within a display image, the GUI selected by the user is identified by referring to the position of the point of contact relative to the GUI and identifies the content of user operation mapped to the GUI accordingly. The user operation content identification unit 22 communicates information necessary for processing such as the identified content of user operation and the migration path of the point of contact, to the content processing unit 24.

    [0023] An operation whereby the user touches the GUI to provide input for selection will be referred to as a "touch operation". Generally, the term "touch operation" means touching an area on the touch panel 12 corresponding to the GUI (hereinafter, referred to as "hit determination area"). Meanwhile, according to the embodiment, one or more virtual points of contact are generated in the vicinity of the actual point of contact according to a predetermined rule. The GUI as selected by the user is identified by referring to, for example, the numbers of points of contact included in the hit determination areas of the GUIs.

    [0024] Therefore, a "touch operation" in a broader sense is defined in the following description as occurring when a GUI available for a touch operation is located within the screen and a contact with at least one location in the screen occurs, even if the point of contact is not located directly within the hit determination area. The rule for determination that a "touch operation" occurs may vary and is non-limiting. The form of "GUI" is also non-limiting so long a touch operation designating the GUI can determine subsequent information processing. For example, a GUI may have the appearance of a user operation button, a rectangle representing a menu item, or an icon. Alternatively, a GUI may be an object located in a virtual world rendered within the screen.

    [0025] In order to identify a GUI as being the one that is selected, the user operation content identification unit 22 stores, in an internal memory or the like, a contact point generation rule configuration file 26 defining a rule for generating virtual points of contact by referring to an actual point of contact, and a GUI identification rule configuration file 28 defining a rule for identifying a GUI as being the one that is selected. These configuration files may be prepared at the time of building the device. Alternatively, the files may be provided along with the content file stored in the content file storage unit 16 and read from the unit 16.

    [0026] The content processing unit 24 performs a process necessary to display content by referring to information communicated from the user operation content identification unit 22 and by using the program or image data stored in the content file storage unit 16. In this process, the content processing unit 24 locates a predetermined GUI at a predetermined position as needed. Known technology may be used in actual steps of processing to suit the details of content. The display image generation unit 30 generates data for an image that should be output, by, for example, reading necessary image data from the content file storage unit 16 in accordance with a request from the content processing unit 24, and outputs the data to the input and output control unit 20. The generated image is stored in a frame buffer in the input and output control unit 20. The input and output control unit 20 outputs the data to the display 14 according to a timing schedule so as to display the image.

    [0027] Fig. 3 is a flowchart showing the steps of acknowledging input for selecting a GUI in the information processing device 10. The user enters a request to start displaying content via the touch panel 12 by, for example, selecting content from a menu screen displayed on the display 14 (S10). The content processing unit 24 and the display image generation unit 30 then read necessary data from the content file storage unit 16 and display an image of content and an image of a necessary GUI on the display 14 (S12).

    [0028] In this state, the device stands by for the user to make a physical contact with the touch panel 12 (N in S14). In this process, processes related to content that can proceed independent of the user operation may be executed and the display may be updated as needed. When a physical contact is made, the user operation content identification unit 22 senses the contact (Y in S14). If the contact is not a touch operation (e.g., screen scroll, enlargement or reduction of an image, etc.) (N in S16), the user operation content identification unit 22 identifies a user operation content mapped to the user operation and communicates the content to the content processing unit 24 along with information necessary for processing such as the migration path of the point of contact so that the content processing unit 24 performs a necessary process (S24).

    [0029] If a touch operation is made (Y in S16), the user operation content identification unit 22 generates a virtual point of contact within the screen, by referring to the position of the point of contact and the rule configured in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 (S18). The contact point generation rule configuration file 26 contains a description of the number of virtual points of contact to be generated, form of distribution, size of a distribution area, etc. The user operation content identification unit 22 extracts a point of contact within the hit determination area defined for each GUI, regardless of whether the point of contact is virtual or real.

    [0030] Hereinafter, the state in which the point of contact is located within any of the hit determination areas will be referred to as a "hit" of the corresponding GUI, and the number of points of contact within the hit determination area of the GUI will be referred to as "hit score" of the GUI. If the points of contact are located within the hit determination area of only one GUI, i.e., if a single GUI is only hit (N in S20), the GUI is identified as being the one that is selected. By communicating the content of user operation mapped to the GUI to the content processing unit 24, the content processing unit 24 performs an appropriate process (S24).

    [0031] If, on the other hand, a plurality of GUI's are hit (Y in S20), the user operation content identification unit 22 identifies a single GUI as being the one that is selected in accordance with the GUI identification rule configuration file 28 (S22). The GUI identification rule configuration file 28 contains a description of definition of parameters for identifying a GUI, including the hit score, priority, score acquired by weighed addition of the hit score and the priority, etc. The GUI identification rule configuration file 28 also contains a description of a rule for identifying a single GUI based on the parameters.

    [0032] By identifying the GUI as being the one that is selected and communicating the user operation content mapped to the GUI to the content processing unit 24, the content processing unit 24 performs an appropriate process (S24). Absent a user input designating termination of the display of content (N in S26), S14 through S24 are repeated. If input designating termination of the display is provided, the process is terminated (Y in S26).

    [0033] Fig. 4 shows an exemplary process performed by the user operation content identification unit 22 in the event of a touch operation. By way of example, it will be assumed that three GUI's are displayed as options available for selection in the screen 40 of the display 14, i.e., a first GUI 42a, a second GUI 42b, and a third GUI 42c. The hit determination area of each GUI is defined as an area within the graphic of the GUI. When the user performs a touch operation at a point of contact 44, the user operation content identification unit 22 generates, for example, four virtual points of contact 46a, 46b, 46c, and 46d within the screen. In the illustrated case, the virtual points of contact 46a, 46b, 46c, and 46d are distributed in a the shape of a 'V' having an apex at the actual point of contact 44. Circles indicating the point of contact 44 and the virtual points of contact 46a, 46b, 46c, and 46d symbolize positions on the plane forming the screen and are not displayed as such images.

    [0034] Of the total of five points of contact including the virtual points of contact generated, one point of contact 46d is located within the hit determination area of the second GUI 42b and two points of contact 46a and 46b are located within the hit determination area of the third GUI 42c. In other words, the second GUI 42b and the third GUI 42c are hit. The hit score of the second GUI 42b is "1", and the hit score of the third GUI 42c is "2". If a rule that requires selecting a GUI with the highest hit score is defined in the GUI identification rule configuration file 28, the user operation identification unit 22 identifies the third GUI 42c as being the one that is selected.

    [0035] The virtual points of contact are distributed in the shape of a 'V' as illustrated for the following reason. If the user extends the hand from the lower side of the screen 40 to perform a touch operation, the fingertip most likely points toward the top of the screen. Generally, the user performing a touch operation while viewing the screen 40 often touches an area below the center of the graphic of the GUI desired to be selected, and, in some cases, the neighborhood of the lower end of the GUI. The tendency is taken advantage of so that, in a device in which the finger is expected to be oriented in such a manner, virtual points of contact are distributed more toward the top of the screen than the actual point of contact.

    [0036] Further, users who use the right hand finger for user operation tend to touch the bottom right of the GUI and users who use the left hand finger for user operation tend to touch the bottom left of the GUI. In other words, the GUI desired to be selected is more likely located more toward top left than the actual point of contact if the user uses the right hand for operation. Conversely, the GUI desired to be selected is more likely located more toward top right than the actual point of contact if the user uses the left hand for operation. Therefore, the GUI desired to be selected is identified with high precision irrespective of whether the user uses the left hand or the right hand for user operation, by distributing the points of contact in the shape of a 'V'. Generalizing this principle, it should be said that virtual points of contact are desirably distributed toward the tip of the finger in an area around the point of contact.

    [0037] Fig. 5 shows a method of determining the inclination of the shape of a 'V' formed by the points of contact shown in Fig. 4, by using the above-described principle. In this example, it is assumed that the information processing device 10 is held horizontally, and the thumb and the index finger located above the screen are used to control the touch panel 12. The right hand 50 of the user holding the information processing device 10 is shown on the right hand side of the figure. Generally, the base of the thumb will be located at the lower right end of the screen 48 (e.g., a position 52 in the figure). By adjusting the orientation of the finger or the reach around the position, the touch operation with the thumb is performed.

    [0038] Therefore, the thumb moves in the range shaped like a fan around the position 52 at the base (an area 54 in the figure). By predefining the position 52 of the base, the orientation of the thumb is represented by a vector 58 starting at the position 52 and ending at the actual point of contact 56. As noted above, the GUI desired to be selected is likely to be located in the neighborhood of the tip of the finger, the GUI is identified with high precision by distributing virtual points of contact in an area around the point of contact 56, and, in particular, toward the tip of the finger, i.e., around a line 60 extended from the vector 58.

    [0039] In the illustrated example, virtual points of contact are distributed in the shape of a 'V' in a symmetrical manner with respect to the line 60. Points of contact can also be distributed in the neighborhood of the tip of the finger in case the index finger or the left hand is used for user operation, by defining the position of the base of the finger as a starting point. Blocks within the screen may be mapped to fingers brought into contact with an area within the block, by referring to the range of movement (e.g., the area 54) of the respective fingers. By switching the position of the base depending on the block that is touched, the GUI can be identified with equal precision regardless of the finger used for user operation. The position 52 of the base may be estimated based on the shape of the device or the configuration of the screen. Alternatively, the position 52 of the base in the device may be marked so that the user may adjust the position of holding accordingly.

    [0040] Fig. 6 shows exemplary data described in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 in order to generate virtual points of contact shown in Fig. 5. The contact point generation rule configuration file 26 contains a shape field 72, a size field 74, a count field 76, and a starting point field 78. The shape of distribution of points of contact is entered in the shape field 72. In the example of Fig. 5, the field contains an entry "V". The vertical and horizontal sizes of the shape of distribution when represented with a normal orientation are entered in the size field 74. The illustrated example indicates that the shape of a 'V' not inclined is sized 5 mm×5mm.

    [0041] The number of virtual points of contact to be generated is entered in the count field 76. In the example of Fig. 5, "4" is entered. Information indicating the position of the base of the finger used for user operation, e.g., the coordinates (X1, Y1) in the screen coordinate system, is entered in the starting point field 78. Units of defining the size or position or methods of representation are non-limiting. If it is expected that multiple hands or fingers are used for operation, associated data are prepared. The table may further include a field for defining one of blocks within the screen depending on which the position of the base is switched.

    [0042] Other than by the example shown in Figs. 5 and 6, precision of identifying the GUI can be maintained across various environments by optimizing the distribution of virtual points of contact depending on the device, screen configuration, and the like. Factors that determine optimum distribution include factors dependent on the appearance of the information processing device and factors determined by content. The former include whether the information processing device is held by the hands or placed on a desk, an angle of tilt of the screen, whether the device is controlled with the hand which holds the device, the condition of the hand which holds the device, the position at which the device is held, etc. The latter include the arrangement of GUI's, whether the screen is viewed vertically or horizontally, etc.

    [0043] In case a display and a touch panel are built in the top plate of a table so that the user views the screen from immediately above, the tip of the finger used for a touch operation generally faces the display vertically downward. In this case, the GUI desired to be selected is considered to be located in the area around the point of contact with uniform probability. Therefore, virtual points of contact may be distributed circularly and evenly around the actual point of contact. In this case, the starting point field 78 in Fig. 6 is not necessary. Depending on the factors described above, the distribution may be in the shape of a 'Y' instead of a 'V'. Alternatively, virtual points of contact may be distributed along a straight line or a curved line that passes through the actual point of contact.

    [0044] In any case, it is desirable to determine a distribution that allows highly precise identification of a GUI desired to be selected, in light of the tendency of relative positions determined by the factors. For determination, vector-based calculation may be made on an assumption that the GUI is likely to be located toward the tip of the finger, as described above. Alternatively, optimum distribution may be derived on a statistical basis by repeating experimental touch operations under different conditions. Still alternatively, calibration may be performed by prompting the user to touch a test image when the initial operation of the device or content is run initially. The distribution may be further optimized in light of the tendency of user-specific operation, length of the finger, hand dominance, etc. The data structure of the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 may be changed as appropriate in accordance with the determined distribution.

    [0045] If the sensor 15 is available to obtain information related to the hand or finger used for an actual user operation, the user operation content identification unit 22 may adaptively update the configuration in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 based on the information. For example, if an additional touch panel is provided on the rear face of the information processing device 10 so that the position of the middle finger supporting the device at the rear face can be acquired, the assumed positions of the base of the thumb and that of the index finger are derived based on the position of the middle finger and the size of an ordinary hand, and the starting point field 78 in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 is updated as needed.

    [0046] If the angle of the tilt of the screen can be acquired by providing an acceleration sensor or a gyro sensor inside the information processing device 10, the shape field 72 in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26 is updated by the angle of the tilt of the screen as appropriate. For example, if the screen faces vertically upward, the entry in the shape field 72 is changed from "V" to "circular" according to the principle described above. In this case, the angle of the tilt of the screen and the optimum distribution shape are mapped to one another in a separate file. If a camera or a sensor capable of acquiring the shadow or figure of a finger is provided in the display 14 so that a two-dimensional image of a finger used for user operation can be acquired, the starting point field 78 will not be necessary because the orientation of the fingertip is known without requiring vector computation. In this case, the subsequent process will be the same as described above by using the orientation of the fingertip instead of the vector.

    [0047] Fig. 7 shows another exemplary rule for generating virtual points of contact. The V-shaped distribution of points of contact is similar to that of Fig. 5. Meanwhile, in the example shown, the orientation and size of a 'V' are determined depending on the relation between the point of contact and the frame of a screen 80. For example, if the point of contact is located at bottom right of the screen 80, it will not be efficient to generate virtual points of contact in the vicinity of the lower edge or right edge of the screen 80 regardless of the orientation of the finger, if no GUI's are located in that direction.

    [0048] In this case, virtual points of contact are distributed around a line extending toward top left from the point of contact at a certain angle, as indicated by a V-shape distribution 82. In this process, the spread of a 'V' may be narrowed depending on the arrangement of GUI's (e.g., absence of GUI's at the edges of the screen). The same holds true of the point of contact located at bottom left of the screen 80. Virtual points of contact are distributed around a line extending toward top right from the point of contact at a certain angle (V-shape distribution 84). If a GUI is located near the top edge of the screen 80 and if the actual point of contact is located in the vicinity below, the spread of a 'V' is enlarged and the vertical size is reduced so that the virtual points of contact are accommodated within the screen 80 (V-shaped distribution 86). Similarly, if there is a rule that should be referred to in priority to the orientation of the fingertip depending on the relationship between the edges of the screen and the point of contact or the relationship between the arrangement of GUI's and the point of contact, such a rule may be determined to suit the device or content and configured in the contact point generation rule configuration file 26.

    [0049] Fig. 8 is a flowchart showing the steps whereby the user operation content identification unit 22 selects one of a plurality of hit GUI's. These steps exemplify a rule that can be variably set in the GUI identification rule configuration file 28. A hit score determination is performed for a plurality of hit GUI's (S30). More specifically, the hit scores, i.e., the numbers of points of contact located within the respective hit determination areas, are acquired for each of the plurality of GUI's and the scores are compared. If the hit score of one of the GUI's is higher than that of the other GUI's (N in S32), the GUI is identified as the selected GUI (S40).

    [0050] In the hit score determination process of S30, the points of contact may be weighed according to a predetermined rule. For example, a hit at the actual point of contact by the user is multiplied by a certain coefficient so as to be assigned a higher weight than each of the virtual points of contact, to which 1 point is assigned. Alternatively, all points of contact may be multiplied by a coefficient which decreases with the increase of distance from the actual point of contact so that the weight of the point of contact is varied depending on the distance. This gives the highest weight to the actual point of contact for identification of a GUI.

    [0051] Meanwhile, if a plurality of GUI's are associated with the same maximum score (Y in S32), the GUI's are subject to a priority determination (S34). Depending on the number of virtual points of contact generated, GUI's may be determined to have the "same score" if the difference in score is a predetermined threshold value or less. For priority determination, a numerical value indicating priority is assigned to each GUI. For example, 5 levels of priority may be defined. Numerals 1 through 5 are assigned to the GUI's depending on the content of the GUI. If two buttons "Delete" and "Cancel" are displayed side by side to prompt the user to verify whether a file or data should be deleted, deletion of data by an error in operation is prevented by assigning higher priority to the "Cancel" button than the "Delete" button.

    [0052] The priority levels of the target GUI's are compared. If the priority level of one of the GUI's is higher than the other (N in S36), the GUI is identified as being the one that is selected (S40). On the other hand, if a plurality of GUI's are assigned the same maximum priority levels (Y in S36), the GUI's are examined to determine the order of processing (S38). In this step, the order of processing in the program for displaying GUI's is subject to comparison. The GUI processed the earliest is identified as being the one that is selected (S40). Through these steps, one GUI is identified at least in one of the stages. The order of priority determination and hit score determination may be reversed depending on the details of content. Whether the order is reversed or not, the GUI identification rule configuration file 28 defines the order.

    [0053] According to the embodiment described above, virtual points of contact are generated based on the point of contact touched as the user provides input to select a GUI displayed on the screen. The GUI desired to be selected is estimated and identified by referring to whether points of contact are located within the hit determination area of the GUI and/or the number of points of contact within the area. According to the related art in which a touch on a GUI is acknowledged, a hit determination area is defined to include a margin area around the graphic of the GUI to produce a response even if the user touches a position slightly distanced from the graphic of the GUI. However, as the screen is heavily crowded with GUI's due to a large number of GUI's displayed or small display space, an arrangement to ensure that hit determination areas do not overlap or a special process to address a touch on overlapping areas will be required.

    [0054] The crowdedness of GUI's is dependent on the configuration of a screen showing content, the area of a display, etc. Therefore, the hit determination area should be redefined at the time of creating content to suit different situations, even if GUI parts can be reused. This has imposed a load to creators. According to the embodiment, virtual points of contact are generated so that, even if a contact occurs at a position at a certain distance from a GUI, the GUI in the neighborhood is likely to be hit. This eliminates the need to include a margin area in the hit determination area. The hit determination area may be defined to be of the same size as the graphic of a GUI. As a result, adjustment relative to the hit determination area as described above will no longer be necessary so that the load on content creators is reduced.

    [0055] The number of virtual points of contact generated, the distribution shape, and the size of the area of distribution are determined by device-specific conditions such as the shape of the device or the way that the device is expected to be held and by content-specific conditions such as the arrangement of GUI's or the screen configuration. This ensures that the GUI desired to be selected is identified with high precision and save trouble such as absence of a response due to a contact that misses the hit determination by a small margin or identification of a GUI different from the one desired. As a result, easiness of content creation and high operability in a touch operation can be achieved at the same time.

    [0056] Described above is an explanation based on an exemplary embodiment. The embodiment is intended to be illustrative only and it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that various modifications to constituting elements and processes could be developed and that such modifications are also within the scope of the present invention.

    [0057] According to the embodiment, a target GUI is identified, prompted by a touch operation on a touch panel. However, a similar process can be applied to an input means other than a touch panel. For example, if the display is provided with a sensor capable of acquiring the shadow or figure of a finger or a pointer, the position indicated by the shadow or figure may be used in place of the point of contact according to the embodiment. Applications of the embodiment include a system in which an image is projected onto a wall or a floor by using a projector, and variation in the image dependent on the position of the user's hand or foot is produced by capturing the shadow or figure of the user located in front of the image, by using a camera or a sensor. In this case, virtual points of designation are generated in the vicinity of the position recognized as being the location of the user's hand or foot, and a determination similar to the one of the embodiment is performed so as to identify the portion in which the intended variation should be induced. If the hand or foot is recognized as a point, variation as intended may not be captured due to slight displacement. By generating virtual points of designation, such displacement is canceled and highly precise processing is achieved.

    [0058] In further accordance with the embodiment, the GUI desired to be selected can be identified with high precision even if the point of contact is slightly removed from the graphic of the GUI. This feature can be taken advantage of such that, when the identified GUI is removed from the actual point of contact, the graphic of the GUI itself is moved as if attracted by and adhered to the finger. If the GUI selected by a touch operation is moved to a different position within the screen by a drag operation, the GUI remains adhered to the finger through the drag operation. Therefore, the user can experience more natural operation. In this case, an animation may be displayed by using a known technology, showing the center of the selected GUI moving to the actual point of contact.

    [0059] In so far as the embodiments of the invention described above are implemented, at least in part, using software-controlled data processing apparatus, it will be appreciated that a computer program providing such software control and a transmission, storage or other medium by which such a computer program is provided are envisaged as aspects of the present invention.


    Claims

    1. An information processing device (10) comprising:

    an input information acquisition unit (20) configured to acquire a position of a point of designation designated by a user in a display image including graphical user interfaces, GUIs;

    a display (14) configured to display the display image;

    a touch panel (12) provided on the display configured to detect input from the user;

    wherein the input information acquisition unit (20) is further configured to acquire, as the point of designation, the point of contact of the user's finger or thumb on the touch panel (12) provided on the display (14);

    a user operation content identification unit (22) configured to locate virtual points of designation at positions determined according to the position of the point of designation on a plane that forms the display image, and to select a single GUI by comparing the GUIs with one another with reference to numbers of points among the point of designation and the virtual points of designation within hit determination areas defined for respective GUIs; and

    an information processing unit (24) configured to execute a process mapped to the selected GUI,

    wherein the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to distribute the virtual points of designation in a shape of a 'V' having an apex at the point of designation.


     
    2. The information processing device (10) according to claim 1,
    wherein, in an area around the point of contact, the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to locate the virtual points of designation more in the direction towards the top of the display (14) than the direction towards the bottom of the display.
     
    3. The information processing device (10) according to claim 1 or 2,
    wherein the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to locate the virtual points of designation at a position determined by a position determination rule defined in association with the device (10) or the display image.
     
    4. The information processing device (10) according to claim 1, further comprising:

    a rear touch panel (15) configured to sense a position of a finger or thumb supporting the information processing device (10) from behind,

    wherein the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to identify the position of the base of the finger or thumb, based on the position sensed by the rear touch panel (15).


     
    5. The information processing device (10) according to claim 2, further comprising:

    a sensor (15) configured to acquire an angle of tilt of the display,

    wherein the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to change the distribution of the virtual points of designation in accordance with the angle of the tilt of the display.


     
    6. The information processing device (10) according to claim 2, further comprising:

    a sensor (15) configured to acquire an image of the finger or thumb on the display (14),

    wherein the user operation content identification unit (22) further configured to identify a direction of the tip of the finger or thumb based on the image of the finger or thumb and distributes the virtual points of contact around the identified direction.


     
    7. An information processing method for use with an information processing device (10) comprising a display (14) and a touch panel (12), the method comprising:

    acquiring by touch panel (12) a position of a point of designation designated by a user in a display image including graphical user interfaces, GUIs;

    locating virtual points of designation at positions determined according to the position of the point of designation on a plane that forms the display image, and selecting a single GUI by comparing the GUIs with one another with reference to numbers of points among the point of designation and the virtual points of designation within hit determination areas defined for respective GUIs; and

    executing information processing mapped to the selected GUI,

    wherein the virtual points of designation are distributed in a shape of a 'V' having an apex at the point of designation.


     
    8. A computer program embedded in a non-transitory computer-readable recording medium, operable, when executed by a processing device (10) according to claim 1, to cause the processing device (10) to perform the method of claim 7.
     
    9. A non-transitory computer-readable recording medium encoded with a computer program according to claim 8.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10), die Folgendes umfasst:

    eine Eingabeinformationen-Beschaffungseinheit (20), ausgelegt zum Beschaffen einer Position eines Designationspunkts, der durch einen Benutzer in einem grafische Benutzeroberflächen, GUI, enthaltenden Anzeigebild designiert wird;

    eine Anzeige (14), ausgelegt zum Anzeigen des Anzeigebilds;

    ein auf der Anzeige bereitgestelltes Touchpanel (12), ausgelegt zum Detektieren einer Eingabe von dem Benutzer,

    wobei die Eingabeinformationen-Beschaffungseinheit (20) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Beschaffen des Kontaktpunkts des Fingers oder Daumens des Benutzers auf dem auf der Anzeige (14) bereitgestellten Touchpanel (12) als den Designationspunkt;

    eine Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22), ausgelegt zum Lokalisieren virtueller Designationspunkte an Positionen, die gemäß der Position des Designationspunkts auf einer Ebene, die das Anzeigebild bildet, bestimmt werden, und zum Auswählen einer einzelnen GUI durch Vergleichen der GUI miteinander hinsichtlich Anzahlen von Punkten unter dem Designationspunkt und den virtuellen Designationspunkten innerhalb für jeweilige GUI definierter Trefferbestimmungsbereiche; und

    eine Informationsverarbeitungseinheit (24), ausgelegt zum Ausführen eines der ausgewählten GUI zugeordneten Prozesses,

    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Verteilen der virtuellen Designationspunkte in einer 'V'-Form mit einem Scheitelpunkt am Designationspunkt.


     
    2. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 1,
    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) in einem Bereich um den Kontaktpunkt ferner ausgelegt ist zum Lokalisieren der virtuellen Designationspunkte mehr in Richtung des oberen Abschnitts der Anzeige (14) als in Richtung des unteren Abschnitts der Anzeige.
     
    3. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 1 oder 2,
    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Lokalisieren der virtuellen Designationspunkte an einer durch eine im Zusammenhang mit der Vorrichtung (10) oder dem Anzeigebild definierte Positionsbestimmungsregel bestimmten Position.
     
    4. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 1, die ferner Folgendes umfasst:

    ein hinteres Touchpanel (15), ausgelegt zum Erfassen einer Position eines die Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) von hinten stützenden Fingers oder Daumens,

    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Identifizieren der Position der Basis des Fingers oder Daumens basierend auf der durch das hintere Touchpanel (15) erfassten Position.


     
    5. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 2, die ferner Folgendes umfasst:

    einen Sensor (15), ausgelegt zum Beschaffen eines Neigungswinkels der Anzeige,

    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Ändern der Verteilung der virtuellen Designationspunkte gemäß dem Neigungswinkel der Anzeige.


     
    6. Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 2, die ferner Folgendes umfasst:

    einen Sensor (15), ausgelegt zum Beschaffen eines Bilds des Fingers oder Daumens auf der Anzeige (14),

    wobei die Benutzerbedienungsinhalt-Identifikationseinheit (22) ferner ausgelegt ist zum Identifizieren einer Richtung der Spitze des Fingers oder Daumens basierend auf dem Bild des Fingers oder Daumens und die virtuellen Kontaktpunkte um die identifizierte Richtung herum verteilt.


     
    7. Informationsverarbeitungsverfahren zur Verwendung mit einer Informationsverarbeitungsvorrichtung (10), die eine Anzeige (14) und ein Touchpanel (12) umfasst, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    Beschaffen, durch das Touchpanel (12), einer Position eines Designationspunkts, der durch einen Benutzer in einem grafische Benutzeroberflächen, GUI, beinhaltenden Anzeigebild designiert wird;

    Lokalisieren virtueller Designationspunkte an Positionen, die gemäß der Position des Designationspunkts auf einer Ebene, die das Anzeigebild bildet, bestimmt werden, und Auswählen einer einzelnen GUI durch Vergleichen der GUI miteinander hinsichtlich Anzahlen von Punkten unter dem Designationspunkt und den virtuellen Designationspunkten innerhalb für jeweilige GUI definierter Trefferbestimmungsbereiche; und

    Ausführen einer der ausgewählten GUI zugeordneten Informationsverarbeitung,

    wobei die virtuellen Designationspunkte in einer 'V'-Form mit einem Scheitelpunkt am Designationspunkt verteilt sind.


     
    8. Computerprogramm, das in einem nichtflüchtigen computerlesbaren Aufzeichnungsmedium eingebettet ist und bei Ausführung durch eine Verarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) nach Anspruch 1 dahingehend betreibbar ist, zu bewirken, dass die Verarbeitungsvorrichtung (10) das Verfahren nach Anspruch 7 durchführt.
     
    9. Nichtflüchtiges computerlesbares Aufzeichnungsmedium, das mit einem Computerprogramm nach Anspruch 8 codiert ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) comprenant :

    une unité d'acquisition d'informations d'entrée (20) configurée pour acquérir une position d'un point de désignation désigné par un utilisateur dans une image d'affichage comportant des interfaces utilisateurs graphiques, GUI ;

    un afficheur (14) configuré pour afficher l'image d'affichage ;

    un panneau tactile (12) fourni sur l'affichage configuré pour détecter une entrée par l'utilisateur,

    dans lequel d'acquisition d'informations d'entrée (20) est configurée en outre pour acquérir, au niveau du point de désignation, le point de contact d'un doigt ou d'un pouce de l'utilisateur sur le panneau tactile (12) fourni sur l'afficheur (14) ;

    une unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) configurée pour localiser des points de désignation virtuels à des positions déterminées conformément à la position du point de désignation sur un plan qui forme l'image d'affichage, et sélectionner une seule GUI en comparant les GUI les unes aux autres en référence à des nombres de points parmi le point de désignation et les points de désignation virtuels dans des zones de détermination de toucher définies par des GUI respectives ; et

    une unité de traitement d'informations (24) configurée pour exécuter un processus mappé sur la GUI sélectionnée,

    dans lequel l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour distribuer les points de désignation virtuels dans une forme de 'V' présentant un sommet au niveau du point de désignation.


     
    2. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) selon la revendication 1,
    dans lequel, dans une zone autour du point de contact, l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour localiser les points de désignation virtuels davantage dans la direction vers le haut de l'afficheur (14) que dans la direction vers le bas de l'afficheur.
     
    3. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) selon la revendication 1 ou 2,
    dans lequel l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour localiser les points de désignation virtuels à une position déterminée par une règle de détermination de position définie en association avec le dispositif (10) ou l'image d'affichage.
     
    4. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre :

    un panneau tactile arrière (15) configuré pour détecter une position d'un doigt ou d'un pouce qui soutient le dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) depuis l'arrière,

    dans lequel l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour identifier la position de la base du doigt ou du pouce, sur la base de la position détectée par le panneau tactile arrière (15).


     
    5. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) selon la revendication 2, comprenant en outre :

    un capteur (15) configuré pour acquérir un angle d'inclinaison de l'afficheur,

    dans lequel l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour changer la distribution des points de désignation virtuels conformément à l'angle d'inclinaison de l'afficheur.


     
    6. Dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) selon la revendication 2, comprenant en outre :

    un capteur (15) configuré pour acquérir une image du doigt ou du pouce sur l'afficheur (14),

    dans lequel l'unité d'identification de contenu d'opération d'utilisateur (22) est configurée en outre pour identifier une direction du bout du doigt ou du pouce sur la base de l'image du pouce ou du doigt et distribue les points de contact virtuels autour de la direction identifiée.


     
    7. Procédé de traitement d'informations destiné à être utilisé avec un dispositif de traitement d'informations (10) comprenant un afficheur (14) et un panneau tactile (12), le procédé comprenant :

    l'acquisition par le panneau tactile (12) d'une position d'un point de désignation désigné par un utilisateur dans une image d'affichage comportant des interfaces utilisateurs graphiques, GUI ;

    la localisation de points de désignation virtuels à des positions déterminées conformément à la position du point de désignation sur un plan qui forme l'image d'affichage, et la sélection d'une seule GUI en comparant les GUI les unes aux autres en référence à des nombres de points parmi le point de désignation et les points de désignation virtuels dans des zones de détermination de toucher définies pour des GUI respectives ; et

    l'exécution d'un traitement d'informations mappé sur la GUI sélectionnée,

    dans lequel les points de désignation virtuels sont distribués dans une forme de 'V' présentant un sommet au niveau du point de désignation.


     
    8. Programme informatique intégré dans un support d'enregistrement dans transitoires lisibles par ordinateur, exploitable, quand il est exécuté par un dispositif de traitement (10) selon la revendication 1, pour amener le dispositif de traitement (10) à réaliser le procédé selon la revendication 7.
     
    9. Support d'enregistrement non transitoire lisible par ordinateur codé avec un programme informatique selon la revendication 8.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description