Assessment of Fitts' Law for Quantifying Combined Rotational and Translational Movements Articles uri icon



publication date

  • February 2010

start page

  • 63

end page

  • 77


  • 1


  • 52

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1527-3660


  • Objective: To develop a model for human performance in combined translational and rotational movements based on Fitts' law. Background: Fitts' law has been successfully applied to translational movements in the past, providing generalization beyond a specific task as well as performance predictions. For movements involving both translations and rotations, no equivalent theory exists, making comparisons of input devices for these movements more ambiguous. Method: The study consisted of three experiments. In the first two, participants performed either pure translational or pure rotational movements of 1 degree of freedom. The third experiment involved the same movements combined. Results: On average, the performance times for combined movements were equal to the sum of the times for equivalent separate rotational and translational movements. A simple Fitts' law equivalent for combined movements with a similar slope as the separate components was proposed. In addition, a significant degree of coordination of the combined movements was found. This had a strong bias toward a parallel execution in 12 out of 13 participants. Conclusion: Combined movements with rotations and translations of 1 degree of freedom can be approximated using a simple Fitts' law equivalent. The rotational and translational components appear to be coordinated by the central nervous system to generate a parallel execution. Application: The results may help drive human interface designs and provide insights into the coordination of combined movements. Future extensions may be possible for the movements of higher degrees of freedom used in robot teleoperation and virtual reality applications.


  • fitts’ law; interface evaluation; usability; human-computer interaction (hci); human performance modeling; robot teleoperation; computer systems; rotational and translational movements; combined movements; performance prediction; input devices; movement coordination; central nervous system; virtual reality; degrees of freedom