Impacts of culture on gesture based interfaces: a case study on Anglo-Celtics and Latin Americans

Manolya Kavakli, Karime Nasser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates the impacts of culture in gesture-based interface design. The aim is to identify basic cultural differences in using hand gestures between two cultures: Anglo-Celtics and Latin Americans. We videotaped and analyzed 10 participants in two groups, while describing two chairs by using their speech and hand gestures. We investigated the frequency, occurrence, and the type of gestures used by the two cultures, as well as the words most frequently used by the participants. Our findings state that there are cultural differences in hand gestures during the description of the objects. This may have implications for the development of gesture-based multimodal interfaces. Anglo-Celtics coming from a low context culture, describe objects using a larger number of gestures as well as a larger vocabulary in a longer period. On the other hand, Latin Americans coming from a high context culture, use smaller number of gestures more frequently in a shorter period. The differences in frequency of gestures may have an impact on the adoption of new technologies as well as adaptation to them. We also found that as the complexity of a task increases, so does the number and type of gestures used. Our conclusion is that the gesture vocabulary of a multimodal interface will be affected not only by the complexity of the task being performed, but also by the cultural background and the language skills of the user.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal on Advances in Life Sciences
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Gesture recognition
  • Cultural difference
  • Gesture based interface design
  • Gesture segmentation
  • Speech coding


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