Toolglass and Magic Lenses: The See-Through Interface


Toolglass widgets are new user interface tools that can appear, as though on a transparent sheet of glass, between an application and a traditional cursor. They can be positioned with one hand while the other positions the cursor. The widgets provide a rich and concise vocabulary for operating on application objects. These widgets may incorporate visual filters, called Magic Lens filters, that modify the presentation of application objects to reveal hidden information, to enhance data of interest, or to suppress distracting information. Together, these tools form a see-through interface that offers many advantages over traditional controls. They provide a new style of interaction that better exploits the user’s everyday skills. They can reduce steps, cursor motion, and errors. Many widgets can be provided in a user interface, by designers and by users, without requiring dedicated screen space. In addition, lenses provide rich context-dependent feedback and the ability to view details and context simultaneously. Our widgets and lenses can be combined to form operation and viewing macros, and can be used over multiple applications.

Eric Bier
Maureen Stone
Ken Pier
William Buxton
Tony DeRose
Publication Date: 
Sunday, August 1, 1993
Publication Information: 
Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '93 (Anaheim, CA, August 1993), Computer Graphics Annual Conference Series, ACM, 1993, pp. 73–80.