To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Early gesture recognition method with an accelerometer

Ryo Izuta (Engineering Department, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan)
Kazuya Murao (Information Science and Engineering Department, Ritsumeikan University, Kusatsu, Japan)
Tsutomu Terada (Graduate School of Engineering, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan)
Masahiko Tsukamoto (Graduate School of Engineering, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan)

International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications

ISSN: 1742-7371

Article publication date: 7 September 2015




This paper aims to propose a gesture recognition method at an early stage. An accelerometer is installed in most current mobile phones, such as iPhones, Android-powered devices and video game controllers for the Wii or PS3, which enables easy and intuitive operations. Therefore, many gesture-based user interfaces that use accelerometers are expected to appear in the future. Gesture recognition systems with an accelerometer generally have to construct models with user’s gesture data before use and recognize unknown gestures by comparing them with the models. Because the recognition process generally starts after the gesture has finished, the output of the recognition result and feedback delay, which may cause users to retry gestures, degrades the interface usability.


The simplest way to achieve early recognition is to start it at a fixed time after a gesture starts. However, the degree of accuracy would decrease if a gesture in an early stage was similar to the others. Moreover, the timing of a recognition has to be capped by the length of the shortest gesture, which may be too early for longer gestures. On the other hand, retreated recognition timing will exceed the length of the shorter gestures. In addition, a proper length of training data has to be found, as the full length of training data does not fit the input data until halfway. To recognize gestures in an early stage, proper recognition timing and a proper length of training data have to be decided. This paper proposes a gesture recognition method used in the early stages that sequentially calculates the distance between the input and training data. The proposed method outputs the recognition result when one candidate has a stronger likelihood of recognition than the other candidates so that similar incorrect gestures are not output.


The proposed method was experimentally evaluated on 27 kinds of gestures and it was confirmed that the recognition process finished 1,000 msec before the end of the gestures on average without deteriorating the level of accuracy. Gestures were recognized in an early stage of motion, which would lead to an improvement in the interface usability and a reduction in the number of incorrect operations such as retried gestures. Moreover, a gesture-based photo viewer was implemented as a useful application of our proposed method, the proposed early gesture recognition system was used in a live unscripted performance and its effectiveness is ensured.


Gesture recognition methods with accelerometers generally learn a given user’s gesture data before using the system, then recognizes any unknown gestures by comparing them with the training data. The recognition process starts after a gesture has finished, and therefore, any interaction or feedback depending on the recognition result is delayed. For example, an image on a smartphone screen rotates a few seconds after the device has been tilted, which may cause the user to retry tilting the smartphone even if the first one was correctly recognized. Although many studies on gesture recognition using accelerometers have been done, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, none of these studies has taken the potential delays in output into consideration.



This research was supported in part by a Grant in aid for Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology (PRESTO) from the Japan Science and Technology Agency and by a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research(25540084) from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.


Izuta, R., Murao, K., Terada, T. and Tsukamoto, M. (2015), "Early gesture recognition method with an accelerometer", International Journal of Pervasive Computing and Communications, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 270-287.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles