Usability and Performance of Mouse-based Rotation Controllers

Rotation controllers are used to interactively orient models in many important applications in 3D computer graphics and visualisation. Unfortunately, previous studies do not provide clear guidance on which rotation controller to use in a particular situation, either be- cause they assess performance measures and rotation tasks in rela- tive isolation or because they do not achieve statistical significance. 

In this paper, we present the results of a broad quantitative user experiment (n = 46) to compare the three most prevalent rota- tion controllers (Arcball, Two-Axis Valuator, and Discrete Sliders) according to both speed and accuracy across two classes of tasks (orientation matching and inspection). While we found no signifi- cant differences between Arcball and Two-Axis Valuator, Discrete Sliders were found to be significantly more accurate for simple ori- enting tasks (a medium to large effect), but slower across all tasks (a small to medium effect, median approximately two seconds). Thus, a Discrete Sliders controller is better suited to situations where fine- grained accuracy is valued over speed and in other instances, e.g., inspection, either an Arcball or Two-Axis Valuator is appropriate.