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?
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.