Information is increasingly being made available in standardized
form factors, such as Really Simple Syndicate (R.S.S.) As a result,
individuals have a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips.
Peripheral display systems have been developed by researchers to
display information in various form factors, some of which mimic
traditional artwork. Furthermore, many peripheral display systems
have avoided the use of animation, fearing that animation in the
periphery will be distracting to users.
The BlueGoo system is a peripheral display that harnesses computational
power to produce unique visual representations of information. BlueGoo
visualizes any R.S.S. feed in the form of animated and dynamic photographic
collages. When a collage is active, its images continually pan and
zoom as well as fade in and out via alpha-blending.
BlueGoo was used to examine whether animation on a peripheral information
display would be perceived as distracting, and whether animation
provides an increased level of visual interest or appeal. Our study
design explored both the effects of display placement and motivation
to look at the secondary (BlueGoo) display, while users completed
a timed monitoring task.
Our study (submitted for publication) found that animation can
be used in peripheral displays without being overly distracting
to individuals performing a main task--the participants in our study
were able to mentally dismiss the type of animation effects used
in the BlueGoo system. Additional findings are discussed in our