It may not be necessary to slow our pace of walk in order to use a touchscreen phone accurately.
Researchers in Scotland and Finland hope they may now be able to come up with ways to design smartphone user interfaces that are easier to operate at faster walking speeds.
After placing 20 Android phone users on a treadmill, the researchers have identified the walking speed at which we find it easiest to accurately hit the virtual buttons on a touchscreen phone, reports New Scientist.
Working alongside researchers at the Helsinki Institute for IT at Aalto University, Stephen Brewster of the interactive systems group at the University of Glasgow measured the effects of increased walking speed on the accuracy of touchscreen aiming movements.
The users held a Google/HTC Nexus One smartphone in their nondominant hand and they had to poke at cross-hair-style targets on screen with the index finger of their dominant hand.
They found that users naturally slow down to a speed somewhere between 40 to 80 per cent of their own natural Preferred Walking Speed (PWS) to use the phone accurately, with most of the sample (17 men and 3 women) hovering around the 76 per cent of PWS mark.
Using accelerometers mounted on the volunteer's bodies they were able to see that at these speeds the dominant hand is better able to compensate for the oscillation of the phone-holding non-dominant hand induced by the walking motion.
"Ideally, we will now be able to develop interaction techniques that are optimised to reduce the detrimental effects of increasing walking speed," the researchers wrote in a paper they will present at the Mobile Human Computer Interaction conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on 30 August.