Midair gestural interaction has gained a lot of attention over the past decades, with numerous attempts to apply midair gestural interfaces with large displays (and TVs), interactive walls, and smart meeting rooms. These attempts, reviewed in numerous studies, utilized differing gestural techniques for the same action making them inherently incomparable, which further makes it difficult to summarize recommendations for the development of midair gestural interaction applications. Therefore, the aim was to take a closer look at one common action, translation, that is defined as dragging (or moving) an entity to a predefined target position while retaining the entity’s size and rotation. We compared performance and subjective experiences (participants = 30) of four midair gestural techniques (i.e., by fist, palm, pinch, and sideways) in the repetitive translation of 2D objects to short and long distances with a large display. The results showed statistically significant differences in movement time and error rate favoring translation by palm over pinch and sideways at both distances. Further, fist and sideways gestural techniques showed good performances, especially at short and long distances correspondingly. We summarize the implications of the results for the design of midair gestural interfaces, which would be useful for interaction designers and gesture recognition researchers.

1. Introduction

Midair gestural interaction applications have been gaining popularity for large public displays [1, 2] and augmented reality [3] and in smart spaces [4]. One of the most frequently used actions in midair interaction with large screens is the one that translates (drags or moves) objects (or cursor) to an indicated target position while retaining their object’s size and rotation [5, 6]. In conventional mouse interaction, this corresponds to, for example, scrolling or browsing actions. Based on earlier findings, translation could be a promising alternative for a traditional pointing interaction [7]. A variety of gestural techniques have been envisioned for translation tasks in large-display interaction. Most of the research work so far in this area was elicitation studies and focused on the evaluation of user preferences. Rarely has the actual recognition technology been used to automatically detect the dynamic hand gestures and collect quantitative characteristics of the interaction. Even rarer were alternative gestural techniques directly compared to see whether some gestural techniques are more appropriate than others for translation manipulation. However, both quantitative and qualitative measurements are needed to inform interface developers how different gestures would impact the performance and user experience of the interface [5, 8].

The contribution of the present work is twofold. Firstly, we looked at which gestural techniques have been used for translation tasks. We reviewed what kinds of user studies have been conducted and what metrics have been used in the studies. We referred to user studies across different application domains that concentrated on the design of gesture sets for translation tasks or associated interface schemes. We chose to concentrate only on the most common interaction techniques favored by the researchers. To date, comparisons of such techniques remain rare. Of particular interest in designing gestural techniques is in support of the execution of translations accurately and conveniently in large-display settings. We also focused on relatively simple and physically easy techniques, those that had achieved the best performance, and those that were favored by the users. As a result, we unified the names of selected interaction techniques. The set of translation gesture candidates that emerged from previous works included interaction by palm, fist, pinch, and sideways (as described in section Design of the Selected Techniques). Secondly, the four translation techniques were evaluated in a controlled user study, in which participants performed the repetitive translation of 2D objects to short and long distances. The aim was to quantify the effects of the translation distance on user performance and subjective experiences and systematically investigate differences between the techniques.

2. Midair Translation

The goal of the literature analysis was to review the translation gestures empirically evaluated in user studies. Then, based on the results of such evaluations, select candidates for controlled and systematic evaluation in our user study. We considered gestures suitable for translation when they satisfied the translation definition presented above. The following inclusion criteria were met. We considered translation only on the horizontal plane because there is a tendency for users’ bodies to physically move in a horizontal rather than a vertical direction [9]. Further, only one-handed gestures were considered that have been shown to overcome a bimanual interaction with large displays in terms of the naturalism for real-life public situations [10]. The examination included general surveys of touchless gestural interactions from [5, 8, 11, 12]. We also referred to user studies that concentrated on the design of gesture sets to help users navigate using translation or associated interface schemes across different application domains. Patents and technical papers without user studies were excluded. In total, we evaluated 64 publications.

2.1. Interaction Techniques Suitable for Translation Task

From the review, we identified 11 interaction techniques in 19 publications. These differed by nature of actions and hand posture (see Table 1). We unified the names of gesture techniques into five categories by the primary gesture posture or action used.

As Table 1 shows, nine reviewed studies investigated the swipe gesture as the most often studied technique. Swipe generally follows a fluid manipulative gesture mechanic [15, 18] when a user makes a quick move to the left or right by the hand or finger. It was used with translation commands like next/previous for remote TV control [13, 14, 1719, 21, 29], scroll tasks [15, 16], and drag and drop tasks [20]. Among these, Carreira et al. [15] reported that the swipe gesture provided better precision and control than fist gestures.

The second most popular interaction technique was translation by palm applied to tasks as scrolling [13, 24], browsing [23], and dragging items [22]. There is little specific research on the evaluation of the interaction performance of palm gestures for translation tasks. However, this technique was well investigated and applied often to pointing and selection tasks [30].

The third most popular technique for translation was the fist interaction for scrolling and browsing 2D and 3D objects [2, 25, 26]. The fist interaction was found as “faster, more fun, and intuitive” than the palm interaction [2].

The fourth most popular interaction technique was pinch, used for both scrolling [3, 7] and drag and drop [27] tasks, which are key interactions for more advanced applications. Farhadi-Niaki et al. [27] showed that the pinch gesture demonstrated better performance than hand circling for a drag and drop task in a WIMP interface.

The fifth technique mentioned in the literature for translation tasks was sideways, which was applied for image scrolling [28]. Koutsabasis and Domouzis [28] found out that the sideways gestures were more usable than both swipe or circling.

The literature analysis showed that translation by palm, fist, and pinch could be implemented as a clutch and release sequence. That is a relative pointing with a clutching gesture at the beginning and a release gesture at the end as demonstrated in [7]. The clutching gesture enables the engagement of an entity and the start of manipulation. The entity then follows hand movement while the clutching gesture continues; this could be palm [2224], fist [2, 25], or pinch [7]. The release gesture allows one to exit from the clutching state and disengages the system from the interaction [7, 25].

Sideways gesturing belongs to autoscrolling mechanics [31] in which translation is carried out while the hand is held in a specific position. It describes all types of techniques that utilize some anchor point relative to the screen or user’s body. For example, when the user’s head serves as the anchor point, keeping the hand on the left (or right) from the head would translate the object to the left (or right, respectively). These include autoscrolling gestures when the user places the arm in relation to the anchor point, and the system starts the automatic translation of the object in a given direction as long as the user keeps the arm or hand in a dedicated place.

As the literature review revealed, there are generally five different gestural techniques used for translation so far: swipe, fist, palm, pinch, and sideways. The results of the studies are mixed and somewhat contradictory. In various studies, different gestures have been favored by the participants. For instance, the swipe that was preferred by participants in the elicitation studies for image browsing was not validated by the usability test [28]. While these results should be taken with caution (due to different gesture recognition technology and conditions used in the studies), they indicate at least a need to compare the performance of the interaction techniques against each other.

2.2. Design of the Selected Techniques

The goal of the literature review was to identify potential gestural techniques for accurate and fatigue-free continuous translation in the different distances. Most studies in which the swipe gesture was favored by the participants were elicitation studies (i.e., did not use the actual recognition devices and algorithms). These studies did not shed light on the actual performance of the swipe in real-world interaction scenarios, nor did they test the performance of the users in continuous swiping to long distances. For translation to long distances, the user would need to swipe multiple times (10 or even more), which would lead to severe hand fatigue in continuous interaction as noted by [32]. Our piloting tests (participants = 5) confirmed that the swiping gesture in long-distance interaction was challenging for users due to physical tiredness. We also observed that because the users tried to “optimize” the repetitive swiping, they tended to decrease the amplitude and speed of the swipe that negatively affected the recognition performance of the gesture. We could not include swipe gestures (which are mainly preferred for selecting next/previous items) and were left with the four other interaction techniques: fist, palm, pinch, and sideways. A complete gesture set design is shown in Figure 1 for the two different gesture mechanics: clutch and release (fist, palm, and pinch) and autoscrolling (sideways).

The clutch and release mechanics of gesturing by fist, palm, or pinch included three key states: (1) clutching to grab an object, (2) translation manipulation, and (3) object release. The clutching state implied that a user first shows an open palm to the sensor to engage the system and then makes a clutching gesture to grab an object. A user needs to clench their fist (fist technique), remain with an open palm (palm technique), or make a pinching gesture (pinch technique). In the translation state, a hand with a clutching gesture is transferred in horizontal space towards the targeted place (interaction by fist, palm, and pinch). In the release state, a designated gesture stops translation and disengages the system from the interaction. The choice of a release gesture for fist and pinch techniques was based on the literature review. Thus, the release gesture for fist and pinch techniques was an open palm as a natural movement [7, 15] and a fist for the palm technique, as in [33].

For the sideways techniques, the translation starts with the hand moving towards the right or left edge of the screen and continues by keeping the hand stationary on the edge of the screen. Removing the hand from the screen edge stops the translation.

3. Methods

3.1. Prototype

To keep the task generic, a visual display for translation was a horizontal slider with 20 bars (see Figure 2(a)). Two distance conditions were implemented for translation tasks: short (varied from 1 to 10 bars) and long (varied from 11 to 20 bars). A depth image from the gesture recognition application was shown in the right-bottom corner of the screen, as Figure 2(b) illustrates. To guide the correct performance of the gestures, specific visual and audio feedback for translation states were defined. The corresponding locations of the item to be translated and its designated destination place were marked on the screen by the words “Cursor” and “Target” correspondingly. In each task, the item to be translated was initially colored gray and turned blue after the participant engaged the system with a clutching gesture (see Figure 2(a)). After the item was translated to its designated place and the participant performed the release gesture, a white screen appeared with a notification that the task was completed, and a “beep” signal was played.

3.2. Apparatus

The experiment was conducted in a large space without direct sunlight. The projection screen size was 2.8 × 1.6 meters with a resolution of 1920 × 1800 pixels. The camera (Intel® RealSense™ F200 with a color resolution of 640 × 480 pixels and a depth resolution of 640 × 480 pixels) was installed on a tripod and fixed depending on the height of the participant (see Figure 3). The distance between the large screen and the participant was 4 meters. The distance between the sensor device and the participant’s hand was 50–70 cm. The computer used for the experiment was a Dell laptop with a 64-bit Windows 8 Professional operating system, Intel Core i7-4610M CPU, 3 GHz, and 8 GB RAM. The keyboard used was a Dell SK-8125. The projector used was a VPL-CH370 5,000 lumens WUXGA 3LCD Basic Installation.

3.3. Software Implementation

The experimental software prototype was created in VS 2013 with the help of Intel® RealSense™ SDK using Intel® RealSense™ camera F200 as a sensor device. A relative pointing was implemented for translation that has no direct correspondence between physical (location of the hand) and virtual (a graphical representation of an object on the screen) systems of coordinates. Translation movement can start at any point of the physical space as long as the beginning and the end of the translation gesture can be reliably defined [34]. This eliminates the need to bring the hand to an exact point in space to “reach” a certain object for interaction by fist, palm, and pinch. 2D coordinates of the hand’s center of mass were used to determine the hand position.

To make a translation, the difference between previous and current hand positions was calculated for fist, palm, and pinch techniques. The translation of one step (the cursor moves one bar to the left or right on the slider view) was performed when the difference between hand positions in the horizontal plane was more than 15 pixels. The translation by sideways was executed when the hand was on the border of the camera view during a fixed number of frames. The item was translated by one step if the hand was on the border of the camera view for more than 10 frames.

The gestures currently recognized as a part of the Intel® RealSense™ SDK were used as state elements of the interaction techniques. The predefined gesture types and system alerts of the PXCHandData interface were used to fire and handle hand postures and motions in real-life interaction: FIST for fist, SPREADFINGERS for palm, FULL_PINCH for pinch, and for sideways alerts ALERT_HAND_OUT_OF_LEFT_BORDER and ALERT_HAND_OUT_OF_RIGHT_BORDER. Recognition of gestures for translation by fist, palm, and pinch was on the central camera view, and the sideways translation was on the peripheral view (see Figure 2(b)).

We conducted a pilot study to confirm candidate techniques for translation tasks and review their design. We run the pilot study with five participants. The study was performed with the software prototype and equipment presented above. Firstly, we asked the participants to translate a cursor and select a specified item using five interaction techniques: swipe, fist, palm, pinch, and sideways. As a result, the translation by swipe had a significantly low interaction speed compared to other gestural techniques. Users reported that the swipe was challenging, and the hand got tired after a few gesture repetitions. These results were in line with the literature review and confirmed the rejection swipe from our study. Secondly, we determined the optimal difference between hand positions for fist, palm, and pinch techniques and the number of frame intervals for sideways. For each interaction technique, we asked the user to repeat the translation three times with different parameter values and then evaluated and analyzed the users’ movement time and subjective opinions. Thus, we defined the optimal difference between hand positions, such as allowing to go through 20 bars in one clutch inside of the camera view. And the number of frame intervals for sideways interaction was chosen as enough to remove the hand from the border in time.

3.4. Participants

Thirty able-bodied university staff members and students (13 females and 17 males with mean age M = 27, SD = 5.98, range 19–45) participated in the experiment. The participation was voluntary, and there was no monetary compensation. All participants were novices at touchless gestural interaction. Among them, 13 had no previous experiences with gestural control devices, and 17 had only a few experiences of interacting with body movements using Microsoft Kinect, Nintendo Wii, or HTC Vive for entertainment purposes. Twenty-eight participants were right-handed, and all had a normal or corrected-to-normal vision.

3.5. Procedure

Upon arrival at the laboratory, participants were informed about the study’s aims, equipment, and the test room. They were also asked to fill out a consent form and a background questionnaire. They were further introduced to the graphical interface (the slider), the depth view, and the task. The camera placement was adjusted depending on their height. It was also explained that the technology had certain limitations and that the system’s best performance could be achieved while keeping the hand at a distance of 50–70 cm from the camera. A general recommendation was that slower movements allowed a larger number of bars to be passed with one translation gesture. It was also noted that the hand should be facing the sensor device, but the participant could freely move in the camera field view. Participants were instructed to use their dominant hand throughout the experiment.

After this, the experiment started with the first block, where the first translation technique was tested. The use of the technique was explained to the participant, including both clutching and release gestures. First, the experimenter showed examples of how to use the technique, after which the participant had a short practice trial in translating items using the technique. The participant also had a chance to ask questions.

As soon as the participant learned to use the technique, the first experimental trial started. The task was to acquire the target as quickly and accurately as possible. After the translation was performed, the participant pressed the SPACE bar on the physical keyboard to start another task. If the translation task was not successful after one minute, the system automatically moved to the next task. The four interaction techniques were presented in a counterbalanced order. Movement direction (left and right) was varied to ensure that the tasks covered a range of conditions for translation in large-display interactions. Thus, for each movement direction on each distance condition, three targets were presented on the slider. The cursor and target presentations were randomized. The participant could take a rest if needed between the experimental blocks.

After each block, the participants rated their experiences with each technique. The ratings were given with eleven nine-point bipolar adjective scales based and supplemented on NASA Task Load Index [35]. The scales varied from negative (−4) to positive (4) experience with the center point representing a neutral point, for example, neither unpleasant nor pleasant. The eleven bipolar adjective pairs used were general evaluation (poor/good), pleasantness (unpleasant/pleasant), quickness (slow/quick), accuracy (inaccurate/accurate), efficiency (inefficient/efficient), physical demand (difficult/easy), mental demand (difficult/easy), temporal demand (high/low), frustration (high/low), distractibility (difficult/easy), and usability (unusable/usable). The scales were explained to the participant. Each metric consisted of an explanatory question, as presented in Table 2.

After the experiment, a final rating scale and a free-form questionnaire about using the gestural techniques for the translation tasks were provided. The participants ranked the four gestural techniques in order of preferences from the most (1) to least (4) preferable. The whole experiment took 35–50 minutes per participant to complete.

3.6. Design

The experiment was a two-way (four interaction techniques × two translation distances) within-subjects factorial design.

The dependent variables were movement time (MT), error rate (ER), and target reentries (TRE). The MT was defined as the time measured from the first recognized clutching gesture to the acquisition of the target by release gesture. The ER was the ratio of unsuccessful acquisition attempts on one distance condition for both movement directions per a sequence of 6 trials. The TRE was a ratio of a target overshooting and then coming back per a sequence of 6 trials.

Each participant completed 4 blocks of 12 trials with one block per combination of movement distance and direction. With 30 participants, the total number of trials was .

4. Results

4.1. Data Analysis and Preprocessing

The data analyses were performed with data that included only successful trials. The trials were considered successful if their execution time did not exceed one minute. Notably, nearly all participants succeeded in the translation tasks with all four techniques. This happened in 100% of cases for the translation by palm, 99.31% of cases for the translation by fist and pinch, and 98.6% for the translation by sideways. Therefore, the total number of deleted trials was , which was 0.7% of all the original trials. As an outlier detection, mean values in each block for each performance measure were first calculated individually for each participant. The individual mean block values exceeding 2SD from the sample block mean were then excluded (3.5% of the blocks) and finally replaced by a recalculated sample block mean.

A 4 (interaction technique) 2 (distance) within-subject analysis of variances (ANOVA) was performed on the data. Greenhouse-Geisser corrected degrees of freedom were used in case of violation of sphericity. Bonferroni corrected pairwise t-tests were used for post hoc pairwise comparisons. One-way repeated measures ANOVAs were performed on the data to break down the interaction effect. A nonparametric Friedman test was applied to compare the subjective ratings. For pairwise comparisons of subjective ratings, the Wilcoxon signed-rank test with a Bonferroni correction was conducted.

4.2. Movement Time

The grand mean movement time MT was 8.68 s. The longest MT was 27 s for translation by pinch at the long distance. The shortest MT was 2.22 s for a sideways translation on the short distance (see Figure 4(a)). The ANOVA showed statistically significant main effects of the interaction technique ( 10.01; ) and the distance ( 80.11; ) on the MT. There was no statistically significant interaction of the main effects ( 2.01; ). Table 3 shows the results of pairwise post hoc tests.

4.3. Error Rate

The grand mean of error rate ER was 1.09 per sequence of 6 trials. The highest ER was 3.8 for translation by pinch at the long distance. The lowest ER was 0.2 for translation by palm at the short distance (see Figure 4(b)). Two-way ANOVA showed statistically significant main effects of interaction technique ( 43.19; ) and distance ( 12.05; ) on ER. The interaction of the main effects was also significant ( 4.11; ). The one-way repeated measures ANOVAs showed a significant effect of interaction technique for both the long ( 22.34; ) and the short distance ( 17.6; ). Table 4 shows the results of pairwise post hoc tests.

4.4. Target Reentries

The grand mean of target reentries TRE was 2.88 per sequence of 6 trials. The highest mean TRE was 21.7 for translation by pinch at the long distance. The lowest mean TRE was 0 for sideways translation at long and short distances (see Figure 4(c)). Two-way ANOVA showed statistically significant main effects of interaction technique ( 19.62; ) and distance ( 28.9; ) on TRE. The interaction of the main effects was also significant ( 14.5; ). The one-way repeated measures ANOVAs showed a significant effect of interaction technique for both the long ( 27.7; ) and the short distance ( 11.74; ). Table 5 shows the results of pairwise post hoc tests.

4.5. Subjective Ratings

Participants’ preference ratings are shown in Figure 5. Friedman tests showed a statistically significant effect for participants’ preferences of interaction techniques for translation ( 37.6; ). Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed that there was a statistically significant preference in translation by fist versus pinch ( 4.0; ), fist versus sideways ( 3.7; ), palm versus pinch ( 4.3; ), and palm versus sideways ( 3.7; ).

Figure 6 summarizes the satisfaction results in boxplots separately for each interaction technique. Post hoc pairwise comparisons with the Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed a statistically significant increase in participants’ subjective rating for interaction techniques on general evaluation ( 32.32; ), pleasantness ( 38.20; ), quickness ( 32.37; ), accuracy ( 31.49; ), efficiency ( 26.30; ), physical demand ( 25.20; ), mental demand ( 20.94; ), frustration ( 12.78; ), distractibility ( 22.11; ), and usability ( 26.60; ), but not on temporal demand. Post hoc pairwise comparisons with the Wilcoxon signed-rank test showed a statistically significant increase in participants’ subjective rating for interaction techniques (see Table 6). As we see from Table 6, interactions by fist and palm were more preferable by participants almost in all scales. Table 7 lists some participants’ comments about their experience of translation by interaction techniques.

5. Discussion

Our results showed that the interaction by palm was significantly faster than that by any other techniques. The findings from movement time data supported the assumption that the longer the translation distance, the more the movement time required for all interaction techniques. The pinch technique was significantly slower than the other techniques.

The results further revealed that the translation distance influenced interaction techniques in different ways, both in terms of accuracy and efficiency. So, the sideways technique was significantly more accurate than fist at long distances (see Table 3). Furthermore, the error rate analyses showed that significantly more errors were made with the pinch technique than with other techniques at all distances. The trends suggested that increasing distance leads to an increasing number of errors only for interaction by pinch. Sideways interaction was significantly more efficient at both distances (see Table 4). However, interaction by fist was significantly more efficient than that by pinch only at long distances. Thus, translation by pinch was significantly more likely to overshoot than the other three techniques at long distances.

Putting together the statistical analyses of qualitative and quantitative evaluation, it seems that the best technique was interaction by palm. This might be because this technique was rated as low in overall difficulty, accurate, and easy to detect. Previously, it had been found that dwell-time-based interaction by palm gesture was the best gesture for item selection because of being the most intuitive [30, 33, 36] and more accurate [2] than fist techniques. Thus, our findings seem to be in line with the earlier studies investigating midair gestural interaction.

However, the Midas touch problem occurred during the translation by palm. Midas touch is one of the biggest problems for midair gestural interaction and relates to the detection of unintended gestures [7]. In our study, the Midas touch could appear as accidental clutching when an open palm was detected in the camera view. Accidental palm detection was also noticed in previous studies [23]. The solution for this kind of problem could be the conditions that help to avoid an accidental system engagement, for example, to dwell with an open palm or to place a hand in the center of the camera view.

For all interaction distances, translation by pinch had significantly worse results. This was also reflected in the ratings of participants’ preferences. In line with this, the pinch technique received also significantly more negative user feedback than palm and fist. There are several possible explanations for this finding. Firstly, the low quality of recognizing the pinch gesture at hand rotation leads to an increase in errors. Secondly, users complained that targeting with this technique required extra attention, which distracted them from the main tasks. Similar findings have been noted previously [27]. In addition, hand fatigue was felt with prolonged interaction by pinch.

It is noteworthy that sideways translation showed a good result in quantitative evaluation measures such as error rate and target reentries. Thus, overshoots occurred less frequently in sideways interaction than in others at both distances. However, interaction by fist overshot significantly fewer times than by pinch only at short distances. Further, at long distances, the sideways translation resulted in significantly fewer errors than fist and pinch. However, the sideways technique received a low evaluation across all subjective rating scales (see Figures 5 and 6). This likely happened because it took more time for the participants to understand how the sideways interaction works. It seems that, when using this technique, participants had to make more body movements when compared to other techniques. For example, participants were required to take a step to the left or right for better gesture recognition, which was done reluctantly. This finding also reflects the argument made by Jakobsen et al. [37] that users prefer not to move during the midair interaction, even if the tasks are hard to select at a distance. It is possible that the use of both hands interchangeably could improve the user evaluation of this interaction technique as was done by Koutsabasis and Domouzis [28]. However, it was noted previously by Walter et al. [10] that a user tends to use one hand only. Although the participants needed to choose the hand for interaction in the present study, our findings seem to be in line with Koutsabasis and Domouzis [28].

Finally, based on the findings from the end questionnaire (see Figures 5 and 6), translation by fist received positive user evaluation across all rating scales. This was also reflected in the movement time and error rate. Thus, translation by fist was significantly faster and more accurate than by pinch. However, the statistical analysis of measurable parameters showed that the fist technique was significantly slower and less accurate than palm at short distances. Additionally, we found that the participants evaluated the interaction by fist as significantly more efficient than by palm. In earlier studies, interaction by fist was found fast, intuitive, and required less physical demand [2, 38]. Thus, our findings regarding the fist technique are in line with previous findings.

In general, for translation tasks, both mechanics, relative pointing (with clutching and release gestures) and autoscrolling, have the potential to be utilized in real-time large-display interactions. The current findings are in line with the previous results of Gupta et al. [7] in that this interaction type is independent of target size but dependent on translation distance. In particular, the use of translation offers promising alternatives for the ray-casting pointing and selection tasks. However, while the metrics of utilizing interaction techniques for the translation tasks in certain scenarios are clear, they do not apply to real-life applications. Hence, the question of how to integrate them into applications with multiple control types and more complex interaction scenarios needs to be further explored. In real-life applications, users could also, for example, handle text entry, change the sizes of the objects, or rotate them. This implies different interaction techniques with optimal performance and could require compromises to integrate with other techniques.

To summarize our findings for future research, the following notions can be made. Gestures that may look simple and have good performance in static interaction, such as pinch, may prove challenging in translation. Such gestures demand more concentration from users and distract them from the primary task. This, in turn, led to fatigue and a reduction in performance. The use of simple gestures (such as palm) has several benefits, including being easy to learn, preventing fatigue in continuous movement, and enhancing recognition accuracy. However, the possibility of accidental detection of unintended midair gestures should be minimized. Furthermore, translation distance affects interaction techniques differently. Thus, interaction by fist had a significantly better performance at short distances compared with interaction by sideways and by pinch in terms of movement time and error rates. In contrast, sideways interaction seems to be a good alternative for translation tasks at long distances; a user just needs to extend his/her hand to the border of the screen in the required direction of the object’s movement. Sideways interaction offers promising performance in terms of error rate and target reentries. In this study, interacting sideways required some participants to step to the left or right for better gesture recognition. Therefore, developing midair gestural interaction techniques should consider that the gestural interaction technique involves only hand movements and not full-body movements.

6. Conclusion

We studied midair gestural techniques for translation effect in large-display interaction. The choice of interaction techniques for the studied translation tasks was justified by the literature review. The results showed statistically significant differences in movement time, error rate, and target reentries. Translation by palm was favored over pinch and sideways at both distances. The sideways, on the other hand, provided the most efficient translation at both distances. Most participants found that interaction by palm was the easiest and preferable, as opposed to pinch and sideways. Based on both quantitative data and subjective opinion, it is clear that translation by pinch was the worst interaction technique, and this interaction technique for translation tasks may not be recommended. Moreover, our findings also showed that interaction techniques differed by performance depending on the target distance. This justifies in some way why the results of the literature review were mixed and somewhat contradictory. Thus, the interaction by fist displayed a good performance and potential for usage at short distances and sideways interaction at long distances.

In future work, we plan to investigate how these gestural techniques for translation tasks combine with other midair interface tasks and work in real-world applications.

Data Availability

The underlying experimental data used to support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


This research was completed as a part of doctoral studies funded by the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at the Tampere University, Cognirem project, financed by the Academy of Finland (Grant no. 326430) and CIMO Fellowship under Grants TM-14-9500 and TM-16-9980. The authors thank all the volunteers and all publications support and staff who wrote and provided helpful comments on previous versions of this paper.