Mobile is poised to become the dominant context in which we search for information. Why then do we have such a convoluted model for conducting a simple web search based on text that is currently onscreen? Select, Copy, Click to Search Box, Paste, Click Search Button. Can we do this better?

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Developed in conjunction with Samantha Chiu and Pushkar Joglekar, SOPHOS: Search On Phones and Handhelds in One Stroke, addresses this problem through a gesture trigger for searching text. The five steps required in the traditional model become just two: select the text and perform the search gesture.

A SOPHOS prototype was developed in Java for Android devices and tested on a Nexus 5 smartphone with representative users. Our tests determined that gestures could be up to three times faster than the traditional method for executing a search. The users we tested greatly preferred SOPHOS over traditional copy-and-paste searching, even though they reported little to no prior experience with gesture-based search invocation.

View our full research findings.