Touchless UI – Overtaking Old-School Touch Gestures

What touchless UI means

Born in the bowels of military laboratories, touchless interfaces finally broke into the functional space of the consumer market, pushing the mouse and partly the keyboard. However, most users need to be aware of such devices on the open market; meanwhile, their price is rapidly falling, closely approaching $100 (comparable to the cost of a good keyboard with gold-plated contacts).

But some ten years ago, the secrecy label still hung on this topic. Although civil institutions of different countries have promoted it independently of the military, in the open press, principles of operation of contactless interfaces are described superficially – with errors, white spots, and inconsistencies that everyone has to face who dared to implement such a device on their own. Note that this only requires a mid-range webcam and the ability to program in any language.

The exact date of appearance of the first touchless control devices still needs to be discovered. By indirect data based on the success of scientific and technological progress in related fields, the lower boundary of estimates can be attributed to the 70s of the last century.

Touchless UI refers to a user interface controlled without physical contact or touch. It is often used in technology devices such as smartphones, computers, or home appliances, where users can interact with the interface through voice commands, gestures, or other non-contact methods.

With touchless UI, users can navigate through menus, perform actions, and access information without physically touching the screen or keyboard. This technology is becoming increasingly popular in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as touchless interfaces can help reduce the spread of germs.

Examples of touchless UI include voice assistants like Siri or Alexa, gesture recognition systems used in video game consoles, and touchless payment systems that use facial recognition or QR codes.

According to Gartner, by 2023, 50% of all major business applications will include at least one type of contactless interaction.

We are all very familiar with one form of contactless user interface: the use of biometrics to sign in to a mobile application. In many applications, especially those concerned with security, biometrics is used to verify the user’s identity. Applications related to finance, storing passwords, and sharing documents are just a few examples.

But more recently, smartphones and apps have devised ways to control all interaction with an app without a single touch. Gesture controls are one-sided smartphones, and apps change the user interface.

On the Galaxy Note 10, users can control the camera with a simple flick of the stylus.

Google Pixel 4 owners can take advantage of Soli technology.

It is a radar-based traffic control technology. Users wave their hands to control music apps and turn off interruptions such as alarms and ringtones.

New apps will also be able to track your eyes. This is called “eye tracking,” and developers are starting to use it in apps.

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Tobii is a company with a history of developing eye-tracking technology. They recently developed a technical solution that allows people to control applications with just a glance.

Several apps are specifically designed for eye tracking on the FB, Instagram, Google Calendar, and Netflix platforms. This technology only works on Tobii tablets, designed specifically for people with disabilities, but it is expected to become available to the general public in the coming years.

The Android 12 update in 2021 launched the eye-tracker in accessibility settings. The iPhone has a similar app.

Again, both of these technical solutions are aimed at helping people with disabilities work with applications, but the technology exists. It’s only a matter of time before we see this convenience in applications across all industries.

App developers are expected to integrate more voice user interfaces (VUIs) into apps in the coming years. Yes, we all know about Siri and Alexa, but VUI technology is making headway, offering a new level of convenience and accessibility through apps.

There’s SideChef, a popular cooking app that integrates with Samsung’s Bixby to provide voice-activated recipes for cooking videos. The app will speak each recipe step while the person is cooking. It waits for the person to say “Next” before moving on to the next step.

Types of touchless UI

There are several types of touchless UI, including:

  1. Voice-based: Touchless UI systems use voice commands to control devices or interfaces. Examples include virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, which allow users to set alarms, make phone calls, or play music using voice commands.
  2. Gesture-based: Gesture-based touchless UI systems use hand or body movements to control devices or interfaces. Examples include gaming systems like the Microsoft Kinect, which allows users to play games using body movements, or touchless faucets, which turn on and off in response to hand gestures.
  3. Proximity-based: Proximity-based touchless UI systems use sensors to detect the presence of a user and respond accordingly. Examples include automatic doors, which open when a user approaches, or touchless hand dryers, which turn on automatically when their hands are placed in front of them.
  4. Facial recognition-based: Facial recognition-based touchless UI systems use cameras to detect a user’s face and allow access to devices or interfaces. Examples include touchless payment systems that use facial recognition to authorize transactions or security systems that use facial recognition to grant access to secure areas.
  5. Brain-computer interfaces: Brain-computer interfaces are touchless UI systems that allow users to control devices or interfaces using their thoughts. While still in the early stages of development, these interfaces have the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology.

Pros of touchless UI

There are several advantages to touchless UI, including:

  1. Improved hygiene: Touchless UI helps to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria by minimizing physical contact with surfaces, which is especially important in public spaces where many people may touch the same devices.
  2. Accessibility: Touchless UI can be more accessible for people with disabilities or mobility impairments who may have difficulty using traditional touch-based interfaces.
  3. Convenience: Touchless UI allows users to interact with devices and interfaces more naturally and intuitively without needing physical buttons or touchscreens.
  4. Speed: Touchless UI can be faster than traditional touch-based interfaces, as users can quickly execute commands or navigate menus using voice commands or gestures.
  5. Safety: Touchless UI can be safer in certain situations, such as driving or handling hazardous materials. It allows users to interact with devices without taking their hands off the wheel or exposing themselves to danger.
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Cons of touchless UI

While touchless UI has many advantages, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider:

  1. Limited functionality: Touchless UI may not be able to perform all the functions of a traditional touch-based interface, which can limit its usefulness in certain contexts.
  2. Inaccuracy: Touchless UI may only sometimes recognize voice commands or gestures accurately, frustrating users.
  3. Dependency on technology: Touchless UI relies heavily on technology, which can be vulnerable to malfunctions or glitches. If the technology fails, users may not be able to interact with the device or interface at all.
  4. Privacy concerns: Touchless UI may require access to sensitive data such as personal information or biometric data, which can raise privacy concerns.
  5. Social etiquette: Touchless UI in public spaces may be considered socially awkward or impolite. It may be perceived as talking to oneself or making gestures that others cannot see.

Touchless UI – overtaking old-school touch gestures

Touchless UI is rapidly gaining popularity and has the potential to overtake old-school touch gestures as the primary way we interact with technology. This is due to several factors, including the increased need for hygiene and the desire for more natural and intuitive interfaces.

Touchless UI systems such as voice assistants and gesture-based controls have gained significant traction in consumer electronics, such as smartphones, home automation, and gaming consoles. As technology evolves, touchless UI will become increasingly common across all devices and interfaces.

One of the main advantages of touchless UI is that it eliminates the need for physical contact with surfaces, reducing the spread of germs and improving hygiene. This has become particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, where touchless interfaces can help prevent the transmission of the virus.

Additionally, touchless UI can be more convenient and intuitive than traditional touch-based interfaces, allowing users to interact with devices more naturally and fluidly. With the development of new touchless UI technologies, such as brain-computer interfaces, the possibilities for touchless interaction are becoming even more exciting and innovative.

However, it is important to note that touchless UI may only be suitable for some contexts or users, and there are still some limitations and challenges to be addressed. As technology evolves, it will be interesting to see how touchless UI changes how we interact with the world around us.

Importance for the privacy of touchless UI

Touchless UI can raise significant privacy concerns, as it often requires access to sensitive data such as personal or biometric data. Therefore, it is important to consider privacy implications when designing and implementing touchless UI systems.

One of the main privacy concerns with touchless UI is the collection and use of biometric data. For example, facial recognition-based touchless UI systems may collect and store images of a user’s face, which could be used for surveillance or tracking. To address these concerns, it is important to implement strong security measures, such as encryption and access controls, to protect user data.

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Another privacy concern with touchless UI is the potential for unintended data collection. For example, voice-based touchless UI systems may accidentally record conversations or other sensitive information if activated unintentionally. To mitigate this risk, touchless UI systems should be designed to minimize unnecessary data collection. Users should be provided with clear and transparent information about what data is being collected and how it is used.

It is also important to consider the potential for bias or discrimination in touchless UI systems. For example, facial recognition-based touchless UI systems may need to be revised for users with darker skin tones, which could lead to unfair treatment or exclusion. To address these concerns, touchless UI systems should be designed to be inclusive and accessible for all users.

The importance of privacy in touchless UI cannot be overstated. Touchless UI technologies such as voice assistants and facial recognition systems can collect important personal data, which can be used for various purposes such as advertising, profiling, or surveillance. This data can be sensitive and should be handled carefully to protect users’ privacy. Voice assistants may record and store users’ conversations, including personal information, such as medical details, financial information, or passwords. Facial recognition systems can capture images of individuals and track their movements, potentially violating their privacy.

Touchless UI developers and manufacturers must implement strong privacy policies and security measures to address these concerns. This includes:

  1. Providing clear and transparent information to users about how their data is collected, stored, and used.
  2. Giving users the option to opt out of data collection or to delete their data.
  3. Implementing robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.
  4. Ensuring that all data is anonymized or pseudonymized to protect users’ identities.
  5. Complying with relevant data protection laws and regulations.

By prioritizing privacy and security in touchless UI development, developers can build trust with users and ensure that touchless UI technologies are used responsibly and ethically.

How touchless UI will develop by 2023

Based on current trends, touchless UI will continue to develop and evolve rapidly by 2023. Here are some potential developments to look out for:

  1. Increased integration: Touchless UI will integrate more into everyday devices and interfaces, including cars, public transportation, and healthcare.
  2. Improved accuracy: With natural language processing and computer vision advancements, touchless UI will likely become more accurate and responsive, reducing errors and misunderstandings.
  3. New interfaces: As technology develops, touchless UI interfaces will likely become more diverse and sophisticated, with new types of gestures, facial expressions, and voice commands becoming more common.
  4. Enhanced privacy and security: Touchless UI developers and manufacturers will likely focus more on privacy and security, implementing stronger data protection policies and security measures to protect users’ personal information.
  5. Mainstream adoption: Touchless UI will likely become more mainstream, with consumers becoming increasingly comfortable with and reliant on touchless interfaces.


Touchless UI will continue revolutionizing how we interact with technology, providing a more intuitive, natural, and hygienic way to interact with devices and interfaces.