Prefab: What If Anybody Could Modify Any Interface?

Day - Time: 24 September 2013, h.11:00
Place: Area della Ricerca CNR di Pisa - Room: C-29
  • James Fogarty (University of Washington)

Fabio Paternò


Widely-used interface toolkits currently stifle the progress and impact of user interface research. Advances are limited by both the rigidity of current interfaces and the fragmentation of applications among many different underlying toolkits. Many promising innovations therefore remain difficult or impossible to deploy.
Prefab examines pixels as a universal representation of the desktop. By reverse engineering the pixel-level appearance of interface elements, Prefab enables runtime interface modification without access to source and without cooperation from the underlying application. I will motivate this approach, present Prefab's pixel-based methods, and show several examples of runtime interface enhancements. This will include our implementation of the first general-purpose target-aware pointing enhancement, an idea proposed more than 15 years ago that has previously been considered impractical to actually deploy. I will conclude by discussing the potential of this work for catalyzing future interaction research and beginning to democratize our everyday interfaces.