Natural user interfaces are not natural

In 3D interaction applications like Kinect xbox 360, the core technique lies in gestural recognition and interfacing. Gestural interfaces are not new. It has been part of the interfaces scene for some years. Gestural control sounds natural, as stated by Kinect from Microsoft, when play games you just have to move your body and the system will respond to you.

However in fact, most gestures are neither natural nor easy to learn. When develop a gesture, normally the developer has to ask many people to do experiments and at last define the tolerance or boundaries and then design further. While the hard thing is that  gestures are individual and also cultural dependent. For example, when westerners travel to India, they have trouble in interpreting the Indian headshake, which appears to be a diagonal blend while in west people shake vertical for yes and horizontal for no. Moreover, research shows children from America and from Britain have different throw gestures too, because the different typical sports in both countries: American football and British soccer.

Figure 1 American throw football


Figure 2 British throw soccer

And a lot of interesting gestures from different countries can be found here:

As a result, if develop a game using gestural interface, some users have to “learn” gestures, which appears to be absolute unnatural.


Source: Natural User Interfaces Are not Natural  by Donald A.Norman


One Response to Natural user interfaces are not natural

  1. So you need one specific characteristic for a moving that the computer can read. Is it not possible for more characteristics means for the same moving? Like you said for example the throwing of a ball.
    Or example for a video game is it possible to change the characteristic for each country. So everyone can still practise his own learned gestures.

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