Understanding interaction mechanics in touchless target selection
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We use gestures frequently in daily life—to interact with people, pets, or objects. But interacting with computers using mid-air gestures continues to challenge the design of touchless systems. Traditional approaches to touchless interaction focus on exploring gesture inputs and evaluating user interfaces. I shift the focus from gesture elicitation and interface evaluation to touchless interaction mechanics. I argue for a novel approach to generate design guidelines for touchless systems: to use fundamental interaction principles, instead of a reactive adaptation to the sensing technology. In five sets of experiments, I explore visual and pseudo-haptic feedback, motor intuitiveness, handedness, and perceptual Gestalt effects. Particularly, I study the interaction mechanics in touchless target selection. To that end, I introduce two novel interaction techniques: touchless circular menus that allow command selection using directional strokes and interface topographies that use pseudo-haptic feedback to guide steering–targeting tasks. Results illuminate different facets of touchless interaction mechanics. For example, motor-intuitive touchless interactions explain how our sensorimotor abilities inform touchless interface affordances: we often make a holistic oblique gesture instead of several orthogonal hand gestures while reaching toward a distant display. Following the Gestalt theory of visual perception, we found similarity between user interface (UI) components decreased user accuracy while good continuity made users faster. Other findings include hemispheric asymmetry affecting transfer of training between dominant and nondominant hands and pseudo-haptic feedback improving touchless accuracy. The results of this dissertation contribute design guidelines for future touchless systems. Practical applications of this work include the use of touchless interaction techniques in various domains, such as entertainment, consumer appliances, surgery, patient-centric health settings, smart cities, interactive visualization, and collaboration.