Proceedings: GI 2013

It’s alive!: exploring the design space of a gesturing phone

Jessica Dawson , Oliver Schneider , Joel Ferstay , Dereck Toker , Juliette Link , Shathel Haddad , Karon MacLean

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2013: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 29 - 31 May 2013, 205-212

DOI 10.20380/GI2013.27

  • Bibtex

    author = {Dawson, Jessica and Schneider, Oliver and Ferstay, Joel and Toker, Dereck and Link, Juliette and Haddad, Shathel and MacLean, Karon},
    title = {It’s alive!: exploring the design space of a gesturing phone},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2013},
    series = {GI 2013},
    year = {2013},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-4822-1680-6},
    location = {Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada},
    pages = {205--212},
    numpages = {8},
    doi = {10.20380/GI2013.27},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


Recent technical developments with flexible display materials have diversified the possible forms of near-future handheld devices. We envision smartphones that will deploy these materials for physical, device-originated gestural display as expressive channels for user communication. Over several iterations, we designed both human-actuated and mechanized prototypes that animate the standard block-like smartphone form-factor with evocative life-like gestures. We present three basic prototypes developed through an exploratory study, and a medium fidelity prototype developed in a second study, which enact a combination of visual and haptic gestural displays including breathing, curling, crawling, ears, and vibration. Through two evaluations we find that (a) users are receptive to the use of gestural displays to enrich their communications; and (b) smartphone-embodied gestural displays are capable of expressing both common notifications (e.g., incoming calls) and emotional content through the dimensions of arousal and, to a small extent, valence. Finally, we conclude with several guidelines for the design of gestural mobile devices.