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Technical Paper: Designing gestures for (multi-touch) screens

December 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

For several months I worked on technical paper about designing gestures for screen-based environments. Finally, it is finished and you can read it. Here is the abstract:

This paper analyses gesture design for pointing devices in screen-based environments. By exploring design patterns the analysis investigated the gesture design of five different end-user products: Desktop operating systems, mobile operating systems, 3rd Party software, small software products, and common hardware products. The beginning of the paper defines what a gesture is, and the various kinds of gestures. Afterwards the analysis merges the gesture design results with the basic commands for pointing devices. This approach points out which gestures are often used, and in which context they are used. The results give interaction designers and software engineers a guide for implementing gestures in their own products. Furthermore, the paper proposes solutions for gesture documentation, and a conceptual framework for complicated gestures. The last section takes an industrial design perspective on pointing devices as an input channel. It discusses the evolution of interface design from a hardware driven to a software driven approach.

Please note:

Unfortunately, I got sick on a long-term disease. Therefore it took me so long for writing this paper and that is also the reason why the data of the analysis is from January of 2010. However, in my opinion the results of my analysis are still valid. For more up-to-date data, please check the Touch Gesture Reference from LukeW.


I am very happy about the support from my teachers, friends, and fellow students. Big thanks to Mahir M. Yavuz and Mathias Stäbler for the content feedback. Vesela Mihaylova for a great Adobe Illustrator and graphic design support. Tim Devine for transforming over 30 pages of my bad english in a readable form, and marking some unclear points of my paper. Dudes, thank you so much!


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  1. December 7th, 2010 at 15:30 | #1

    Waiting for more touch related posts from you! 🙂

  2. April 11th, 2011 at 20:23 | #2

    Also very interesting development is going on for the Adobe Creative Suite Software. Their exists some example how you can use your tablet for a remote device. Interesting idea for multi-touch gesture interaction.



    I am very happy to see some real life examples, which are using the marking menu guidance concept in multi-touch environments. So I was not wrong with my recommendation 🙂

  3. admin
    May 18th, 2011 at 16:36 | #3

    N-Trig provides a technical two in one solution (hardware and software) for multi-touch and pen device interaction. The SDK is available for the public, and here is a short introduction video for the N-trig Gestures API.

  4. September 21st, 2011 at 21:54 | #4

    nice article from Don Norman (Core77) about standard and the disadvantages of using gestures

  5. May 11th, 2016 at 18:39 | #5

    There exist a research paper about how much a industrial design influences the usability/ergonomy of screenbased interface design.

    Andreas Sonderegger, Juergen Sauer, The influence of design aesthetics in usability testing: Effects on user performance and perceived usability, Applied Ergonomics, Volume 41, Issue 3, May 2010, Pages 403-410, ISSN 0003-6870, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2009.09.002.
    Keywords: Usability test; Aesthetics; Adolescent; Performance; Mobile phone

  6. Sandy
    July 28th, 2017 at 11:54 | #6

    Nice information and I found it very useful. I’m expecting a paper related to multitouch software from you. Hope will get it on your blog soon.

  7. admin
    September 10th, 2017 at 18:15 | #7

    multi-touch gesture icons for Photoshop and Illustrator

  1. December 7th, 2010 at 10:48 | #1
  2. December 19th, 2010 at 15:37 | #2
  3. December 23rd, 2010 at 13:36 | #3
  4. November 26th, 2011 at 22:46 | #4