Designing Motion Gesture Interfaces in Mobile Phones for Blind People

Abstract

Despite the existence of advanced functions in smartphones, most blind people are still using old-fashioned phones with familiar layouts and dependence on tactile buttons. Smartphones support accessibility features including vibration, speech and sound feedback, and screen readers. However, these features are only intended to provide feedback to user commands or input. It is still a challenge for blind people to discover functions on the screen and to input the commands. Although voice commands are supported in smartphones, these commands are difficult for a system to recognize in noisy environments. At the same time, smartphones are integrated with sophisticated motion sensors, and motion gestures with device tilt have been gaining attention for eyes-free input. We believe that these motion gesture interactions offer more efficient access to smartphone functions for blind people. However, most blind people are not smartphone users and they are aware of neither the affordances available in smartphones nor the potential for interaction through motion gestures. To investigate the most usable gestures for blind people, we conducted a user-defined study with 13 blind participants. Using the gesture set and design heuristics from the user study, we implemented motion gesture based interfaces with speech and vibration feedback for browsing phone books and making a call. We then conducted a second study to investigate the usability of the motion gesture interface and user experiences using the system. The findings indicated that motion gesture interfaces are more efficient than traditional button interfaces. Through the study results, we provided implications for designing smartphone interfaces.

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Correspondence to Xiangshi Ren.

Additional information

This study has been partially supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research of Japan under Grant Nos. 23300048, 25330241, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 61228206.

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Dim, N.K., Ren, X. Designing Motion Gesture Interfaces in Mobile Phones for Blind People. J. Comput. Sci. Technol. 29, 812–824 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11390-014-1470-5

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Keywords

  • design
  • motion gesture
  • user-defined study