I read a blog post recently by Nick Jones talking about some interesting research from University of Glasgow relating to Human Computer Interaction. The research looked at gestures which people would be willing to make in different situations and those which people would not.
The research paper, titled Usable Gestures for Mobile Interfaces: Evaluating Social Acceptability by Julie Rico and Stephen Brewster, looks at what gestures people will be willing to make using mobile devices in public places.
The on-the-street user study demonstrated that user acceptance of gestures is increased after even one positive experience. The survey demonstrated the important role that observers play in social acceptability, with highly acceptable gestures including subtle imitations of everyday gestures and gestures with highly visible cues demonstrating their role as an interaction with an interface. These results provide researchers with concrete tools that can be used to assess the social acceptability of multimodal interaction techniques at an early stage of development.
Case in point now is the much hyped Sixth Sense device designed by the Indian, Pranav Mistry. In one of the examples in the demo, he shows the device projecting something onto another person. As Nick Jones points out, how many people would enjoy that? How long would you last before you get punched by the boyfriend of the girl whose T-Shirt you’re reading from?
Coolness of the product should not blind us from the real utility of the product. It should also not blond us from the acceptability of what we do with it.
I hope mobile device designers read this and not make people openly point at people or things, or make us do idiotic gestures.