Acceptable Gestures in Public Space

Using gestures to control a digital system in public can be very uncomfortable for many people. Especially if the gestures involve huge movements. Because gestures mean different things depending on the situation or location a person is in, I want to only focus on gestures for users in front of the shop window.

To see what gestures are acceptable in a public space, I let a person perform certain gestures in front of a shop window in a busy street. I wanted to know what action were fine for her and what she thought were not acceptable gestures for a public space. In the test there was no interactive system that actually reacted to her gestures. However the test focused on the defining the users comfort level with body movements in public spaces. From my observations I created the theory that users are more likely to use the system in the public space if they have a certain comfort level while moving around. My thought is also that acting in front of a system that delivers actual feedback would rise the comfort level tremendously.

Many shop window reflect the sunlight. Its a common gesture for window shopper to raise the hand to the forhead and go very close to the window to see more of its content.

Window shopper often strole along the windows until something catches their attention…

… and then they have a closer look.

Pointing at something is a normal thing to do if one person wants to show something to another person.

Waving one or two arms in front of a shop window is rather uncommon and people felt silly doing it. However with an interactive system in place, this gesture feels more natural as seen on

I know that it will be different if actually something happen if a person performs in front of a window. However, I believe that using comfortable gestures for people in public space will make the system more acceptable.

One interesting part I found out is that big movements are not very comfortable in public space because the people feel silly performing them. On the other hand many interactive shopping window use this big movements and people perform them. I assume that this is because such systems are new and people want to try them. For the future I believe it will go back to small gestures.