Research Output
Beats: Tapping Gestures for Smart Watches
  Interacting with smartwatches poses new challenges. Although capable of displaying complex content, their extremely small screens poorly match many of the touchscreen interaction techniques dominant on larger mobile devices. Addressing this problem, this paper presents beating gestures, a novel form of input based on pairs of simultaneous or rapidly sequential and overlapping screen taps made by the index and middle finger of one hand. Distinguished simply by their temporal sequence and relative left/right position these gestures are designed explicitly for the very small screens (approx. 40mm square) of smartwatches and to operate without interfering with regular single touch input. This paper presents the design of beating gestures and a rigorous empirical study that characterizes how users perform them -- in a mean of 355ms and with an error rate of 5.5%. We also derive thresholds for reliably distinguishing between simultaneous (under 30ms) and sequential (under 400ms) pairs of screen touches or releases. We then present five interface designs and evaluate them in a qualitative study in which users report valuing the speed and ready availability of beating gestures.

  • Date:

    31 December 2015

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher


  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA76 Computer software

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    004.2 Systems analysis, design & performance

  • Funders:

    National Research Foundation of Korea


Oakley, I., Lee, D., Islam, M. R., & Esteves, A. (2015). Beats: Tapping Gestures for Smart Watches. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (1237-1246).



Smart watches; touchscreen; beating gestures;

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