Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 31–39 | Cite as

Ultrasonic hand gesture recognition for mobile devices

  • Mohamed Saad
  • Chris J. Bleakley
  • Vivek Nigram
  • Paul Kettle
Original Paper


This paper describes a novel system for ultrasonic gesture recognition targeted at handheld devices, such as smartphones. Unlike previous proposals, the system obtains high update rate range estimates for the user’s hand. The range of the user’s hand is determined based on the Round Trip Time of ultrasonic pulses emitted by a transducer on the device, reflected by the hand and received at multiple sensors on the device. The range estimates, coupled with other information extracted from the reflected ultrasonic signals, are used for gesture recognition. Gesture recognition is performed by means of a multi-class hierarchical binary support vector machine. The high update rate is enabled by the use of compact wideband transducers. The ultrasonic pulses are short in duration and utilize Linear Frequency Modulation compression to achieve high resolution in Time Of Arrival estimation. The impact of multipath is reduced by the use of Frequency Hopping. A system prototype using one transmitter and four receivers was found to achieve gesture detection sensitivity and specificity of 99% and 99%, respectively, and classification accuracy of 96% for 7 users (5 males, 2 females) with around 500 repetitions per user for a set of 7 gesture types.


Gesture-based interaction Ultrasonic Support vector machine (SVM) Human–Computer Interface 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohamed Saad
    • 1
  • Chris J. Bleakley
    • 1
  • Vivek Nigram
    • 2
  • Paul Kettle
    • 2
  1. 1.UCD School of Computer ScienceUniversity College DublinBelfield, Dublin 4Ireland
  2. 2.Maxim IntegratedSan JoseUSA

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