Touch Gestures – The Future of UI

No More Buttons? New Designs will let you make Commands through Gestures

The world of UX design is undergoing a tough challenge in introducing gesture-based command to a consumer audience that is still learning how to use it. They’ll be glad the old navigation is disappearing though. Small handheld displays are cursed with one finger typing and users are open to any new improvement. And those gradual incremental improvements in function and design will keep smartphone sales booming for many years. Manufacturers will gladly sell you phones with some slight improvement to maximize sales and profit.

The Touch/Gesture Display

We’re very near a point where all devices could be fitted with gesture-based controls including smartphones, TVs, in-vehicle dvd players, video game consoles, and even ovens and refrigerators at home. If you’ve watched CSI on TV, you’ve seen the slick see through screens where images appear. Touch Gestures UI Figure 1 from  For gaming in particular, the rise of 3D motion detection makes gesture control the primary control. Game designers are leading the way in gesture-based design.

Designing for the Transition

It’s all very exciting, but we’re not quite there yet. Interface designers have the challenge of trying to plan and create interfaces that integrate traditional layouts and functionality with new advanced layouts and menus that will make gesture and touch control easy.

Legacy meets the Future

Although gesture capability is here, it is mixed with touch and sound navigation cues. The lag in progress is caused by us since we’re unfamiliar with gesture commands. It’s a new language for us to learn. On my Note 3 phone, I wave across the screen to start the phone and then say “open camera” to launch the camera instantly. Actually, sometimes the hand wave doesn’t work. So Samsung’s software developers have some glitches. Smartphone and tablet users tend to get frustrated easily.  Glitches can negate use and acceptance by users.

To quicken the learning curve and make it intuitive and easy to use developers must:

  1. Emphasize your core content that you need to display
  2. Make it a fun, easy experience for users
  3. Streamline navigation and cut the number of touches
  4. Help users get to the content they want
  5. Create easy methods to let user access sub content
  6. Give users familiar visual cues
  7. Use progressive disclosure – let users learn gradually
  8. Always enable search capability so they can tell you what they want
  9. Understand where users get stuck or lost and try to predict their behaviour.

Is Design as Important as Content?

Some believe design is just as important as content. I’m not going to argue that since bad design ruins the experience and ends the visit. Good design must maximize the brand experience because that’s what a website/app visit is – an experience with your company. Design is the vessel that delivers the brand’s unique value proposition via a smooth stream of content.

Leap Motion

Leap Motion technology includes a box with very strong motion detection. It can actually identify the movement of individual fingers and that means 10 unique inputs for commands + the hand. Add voice commands and you can see how mobile devices are evolving fast to become our favourite computer.

Gesture commands are not standardized, so this will create confusion and slow down the evolution of touchless, keyboardless computing. But with improvements in technology and more user acceptance the future of UI will be a lot different than what you see now.


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