Hand gestures for the future


Visions of the future often place emphasis on technologies that radically alter our way of life and cure all problems. We were invited to reflect on how we use yesterday’s technologies today and envision examples of how tomorrow’s tangible, embedded, and embodied technologies might be explored.


Interaction designer


Read full design research →


How does one interact with an artefact that affords no interaction? Our vision of a distant future featured homes with a rendering of a strong minimalistic approach with devices that no longer inherit knobs, buttons etc.

Hand gestures are versatile and highly varied-but foremost they do not constrain human motion. They have the natural ability to represent ideas and actions easily. Most importantly, the potential to provide a more natural input to the future invisible technology.


We began by examining perception, embodied emotions, and tangibility in relation to hand gestures What embodied gestures may users of technology use to operate a device? What feels natural and what space is needed for sufficient hand movement?

A workshop was set-up with five participants to capture interpretations of a handful of common household devices by having the participants act them out through the game of charades. From our analysis, we found patterns and similarities whereas we narrowed down on two household devices and gestures to focus our prototyping on.


Approaching the prototype with the insights in hand, our user scenario went as follows: a unique gesture was to target a display device and a light device. A generic gesture in terms of push/pull would control the function on/off of the display device whilst a linear motion would control increase/decrease the dimming function of the light device.




User testing


The prototype was on JavaScript programming language, utilizing a colour-tracking library through the use of a camera. As the colour-tracking library could detect a wide range of colours within a projected canvas element, we crafted gloves marked with colour patches. Several iterations were made on the glove material and its colour, colour patches, and placement of these patches.


Through user testing with our participants, we discovered the rewarding feeling of successfully completing the gestures through self-exploration. The importance of the gestures to symbolize the device, the need for direct feedback, and how the use of two hands hinders multi-tasking. Conclusively, we succeeded in igniting a discussion on how hand gestures could enrich the interaction for users by considering dynamic hand gestures corresponding to the dynamic motion of its counterpart household device.