Resolving display shape dependence issues on tabletops


Advances in display technologies are transforming the capabilities—and potential applications—of system interfaces. Previously, the overwhelming majority of systems have utilised rectangular displays; this may soon change with digital devices increasingly designed to be ubiquitous and pervasive, to facilitate frictionless human interaction. At present, software is invariably designed assuming it will be used with a display of a specific shape; however, there is an emerging demand for systems built around interacting with tabletop interfaces to be capable of handling a wide range of potential display shapes. In this paper, the design of software for use on a range of differently shaped tabletop displays is considered, proposing a novel but extensible technique that can be used to minimise the influence of the issues of using different display shapes. Furthermore, we present a study that applies the technique to adapt several software applications to several different display shapes.


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This work was partially funded under the UK’s EPSRC/ERSC Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) SynergyNet project (RES-139-25-0400). The authors would also like to thank Professor Liz Burd and Dr. Andrew Hatch supervising the primary author’s master degree from which this work originally stems. The authors would also like to thank the members of the Durham University Technology Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group for supporting the redrafting of this manuscript. Source code for the technique’s implementation is available at

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Correspondence to James McNaughton.

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James McNaughton is a researcher at Durham University, UK, whose research interests include HCI, natural user interfaces, and augmented reality. His current work involves investigating the use of emerging interaction technologies in classroom environments.

Tom Crick is a professor of digital education & policy at Swansea University, UK. His research interests are interdisciplinary, including data science, intelligent systems, digital public services, software sustainability, and computer science education.

Shamus Smith is a senior lecturer in computer science at the University of Newcastle, Australia. His current research interests include touch-based technologies, mobile technology for augmented reality, and the reuse of gaming technology.

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McNaughton, J., Crick, T. & Smith, S. Resolving display shape dependence issues on tabletops. Comp. Visual Media 4, 349–365 (2018).

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  • visual content management
  • irregular displays
  • screen design
  • multi-touch surfaces
  • tabletop displays
  • ubiquitous computing