BackSwipe: Back-of-device Word-Gesture Interaction on Smartphones

Proc SIGCHI Conf Hum Factor Comput Syst. 2021 May:2021:196. doi: 10.1145/3411764.3445081. Epub 2021 May 7.


Back-of-device interaction is a promising approach to interacting on smartphones. In this paper, we create a back-of-device command and text input technique called BackSwipe, which allows a user to hold a smartphone with one hand, and use the index finger of the same hand to draw a word-gesture anywhere at the back of the smartphone to enter commands and text. To support BackSwipe, we propose a back-of-device word-gesture decoding algorithm which infers the keyboard location from back-of-device gestures, and adjusts the keyboard size to suit the gesture scales; the inferred keyboard is then fed back into the system for decoding. Our user study shows BackSwipe is feasible and a promising input method, especially for command input in the one-hand holding posture: users can enter commands at an average accuracy of 92% with a speed of 5.32 seconds/command. The text entry performance varies across users. The average speed is 9.58 WPM with some users at 18.83 WPM; the average word error rate is 11.04% with some users at 2.85%. Overall, BackSwipe complements the extant smartphone interaction by leveraging the back of the device as a gestural input surface.

Keywords: Text entry; command input; smartphones; touchscreen; word-gesture shortcuts.