Proceedings: GI 2013

Extending the vocabulary of touch events with ThumbRock

David Bonnet, Caroline Appert, Michel Beaudouin-Lafon

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2013: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, 29 - 31 May 2013, 221-228

DOI 10.20380/GI2013.29

  • BibTex

    author = {Bonnet, David and Appert, Caroline and Beaudouin-Lafon, Michel},
    title = {Extending the vocabulary of touch events with ThumbRock},
    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 = {221--228},
    numpages = {8},
    doi = {10.20380/GI2013.29},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


Compared with mouse-based interaction on a desktop interface, touch-based interaction on a mobile device is quite limited: most applications only support tapping and dragging to perform simple gestures. Finger rolling provides an alternative to tapping but uses a recognition process that relies on either per-user calibration, explicit delimiters or extra hardware, making it difficult to integrate into current touch-based mobile devices. This paper introduces ThumbRock, a ready-to-use micro gesture that consists in rolling the thumb back and forth on the touchscreen. Our algorithm recognizes ThumbRocks with more than 96% accuracy without calibration nor explicit delimiter by analyzing the data provided by the touch screen with a low computational cost. The full trace of the gesture is analyzed incrementally to ensure compatibility with other events and to support real-time feedback. This also makes it possible to create a continuous control space as we illustrate with our MicroSlider, a 1D slider manipulated with thumb rolling gestures.