Touch a screen or turn a knob: Choosing the best device for the job

Wendy A. Rogers, Arthur D. Fisk, Anne Collins McLaughlin, Richard Pak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Input devices enable users to interact with systems. In two experiments, we assessed whether and how task demands and user age influenced task performance for a direct input device (touch screen) and an indirect input device (rotary encoder). In Experiment 1, 40 younger (18-28 years) and 40 middle-aged to older adults (51-65 years) performed tasks using controls such as sliders, up/down buttons, list boxes, and text boxes while using a system. The optimal input device to facilitate performance was dependent on the task being performed and the age of the user. In Experiment 2, touch screen use was assessed for 20 younger (19-23 years) and 20 older adults (51-70 years). Task demands were manipulated through button size, movement distance, direction, and type of movement. Performance was moderated by the age of the user and by task demands. Actual or potential applications of this research include guidance for the optimal selection of input devices for different user populations and task characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-288
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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