Google Research

Modeling and Reducing Spatial Jitter caused by Asynchronous Input and Output Rates

  • Axel Antoine
  • Mathieu Nancel
  • Ella Ge
  • Jingjie Zheng
  • Navid Zolghadr
  • Géry Casiez
The 33rd Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, ACM, New York, NY (2020), 13p (to appear)

Abstract

Jitter in interactive systems occurs when visual feedback is perceived as unstable or trembling even though the input signal is smooth or stationary. It can have multiple causes such as sensing noise, or feedback calculations introducing or exacerbating sensing imprecisions. Jitter can however occur even when each individual component of the pipeline works perfectly, as a result of the differences between the input frequency and the display refresh rate. This asynchronicity can introduce rapidly-shifting latencies between the rendered feedbacks and their display on screen, which can result in trembling cursors or viewports. This paper contributes a better understanding of this particular type of jitter. We first detail the problem from a mathematical standpoint, from which we develop a predictive model of jitter amplitude as a function of input and output frequencies, and a new metric to measure this spatial jitter. Using touch input data gathered in a study, we developed a simulator to validate this model and to assess the effects of different techniques and settings with any output frequency. The most promising approach, when the time of the next display refresh is known, is to estimate (interpolate or extrapolate) the user’s position at a fixed time interval before that refresh. When input events occur at 125 Hz, as is common in touch screens, we show that an interval of 4 to 6 ms works well for a wide range of display refresh rates. This method effectively cancels most of the jitter introduced by input/output asynchronicity, while introducing minimal imprecision or latency.

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