October 22, 2020

Designing With Gesture, Experiments for a Low-Touch Future

by Kim Gim, Associate Creative Director

Designing With Gesture, Experiments for a Low-Touch Future

If one question has been bothering interaction designers in our socially distanced, amply sanitized world, it is this: How do we design interactive experiences so that they don’t require touch? As businesses began to reopen, we witnessed plenty of stopgap measures like QR codes, gloves, and styluses. Some of these tactics were clever, but most were more about mitigating risk than improving the user experience.

At Bluecadet, we want to go a step further, asking: How do we design interactive experiences that are story-rich, accessible to all, and also touchless? If touch-free interactions are here to stay, it’s our job as designers to build them in a way that feels holistic, purposeful, and meant to last. We are taking this as a chance to learn, grow, and innovate.

Our R&D team wanted to explore a touch-free paradigm that felt creative and adaptable. That led us to gestures. What is more purposeful and timeless than a friendly wave? As it turns out, gestures are already a familiar form of touchless interaction. We usually think of a thumbs up or a nod of the head as something that something that happens between people, rather than between a user and a piece of technology, but why?

Could we build intuitive touchless experiences around gesture? Only one way to find out: Some friendly debates, remote brainstorms, and building demos. Here’s a taste of what we have come up with to date…

Journey into the Known

The best gestures are ones that people already do in their daily lives. If a gesture is familiar, users will feel more comfortable engaging with the experience. Fascinated by the ubiquity of simple gestures on Zoom, we explored how to make those a bit more fun.

Thumbs up, thumbs down gesture

Connect with the Content

Whenever possible, gestures should be derived from the story that’s already being told. There are plenty of natural interaction metaphors to pull from. In this prototype, users can gesture to “zoom in” on sections of a nature scene. How would you do that in real life? Binoculars, of course!

Binoculars interaction

Avoid Gesture Fatigue

Our gesture-based 3D explorer allows for some very cool interactions, but also creates a high level of physical and cognitive engagement. It can be a big ask compared to, say, touching a button. So, we built in a resting state.

Land slice gesture

Inclusive Design

One of our prototypes initially activated different visual zones via a “grabbing” gesture. As we thought about the need to design for a broad audience, we added in a time-based activation for guests with limited hand mobility.

Grab Select with Accessibility

You Just Have to Try it

For now, gestural interactions with computers are still a new and somewhat unfamiliar experience. Instead of guesswork, we’ve been waving our arms around and testing it out. If you’re as curious as we are about what comes next, connect with Brad Baer, our Chief Strategy Officer, and let’s build something.

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