Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


Franz J. Kurfess


New, often free, spatial information applications such as mapping tools, topological imaging, and geographic information systems are becoming increasingly available to the average computer user. These systems, which were once available only to government, scholastic, and corporate institutions with highly skilled operators, are driving a need for new and innovative ways for the average user to navigate and control spatial information intuitively, accurately, and efficiently. Gestures provide a method of control that is well suited to navigating the large datasets often associated with spatial information applications. Several different types of gestures and different applications that navigate spatial data are examined. This leads to the introduction of a system that uses a visual head tracking scheme for controlling of the most common navigation action in the most common type of spatial information application, panning a 2-D map. The proposed head tracking scheme uses head pointing to control the direction of panning. The head tracking control is evaluated against the traditional control methods of the mouse and touchpad, showing a significant performance increase over the touchpad and comparable performance to the mouse, despite limited practice with head tracking.