Publication Date

Summer 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors/Ergonomics


Sean Laraway


Input Modality, Mobile Phone, Notes

Subject Areas

Behavioral sciences; Behavioral psychology; Kinesiology


The features of the smartphone make it an indispensible commodity of Western urban lifestyles. However, the most common problems of using a mobile device for work-related activities are limited screen space and poor input techniques. People in the workforce whose daily job entails being in a mobile environment generally prefer to carry light, mobile devices along with a pen and a notepad. The purpose of this study was to investigate optimal input modality for taking notes. The three modes of input evaluated were spoken notes, typing on the phone, and writing by hand using a pen and paper. The variables measured to evaluate the three modalities were accuracy of content, perceived mental task load, preferred mode, and number of words. Spoken notes were significantly more accurate, less taxing mentally, and more detailed compared to typed or handwritten notes. The difference between typed and handwritten notes was shown to be nonsignificant. However, the majority of participants preferred the typed or handwritten modality. The study shows that even though the accuracy of the spoken modality by far exceeded the rest, spoken notes are best suited for taking rough notes for personal use only.