Hand tremor is the unintentional, rhythmic movements of the hand that can occur at rest or during directed actions. It may occur because of various reasons such as neurological disorders (Parkinson's disease, Essential Tremors, and Huntington's disease); side effects of some medications, or can happen at times when people are anxious or nervous. According to an estimate, eight million people with hand tremors own a smartphone. The number can be more significant if we include people who have situational hand tremors and are currently facing challenges in their daily lives in using their smartphones, a device that has become an inseparable part of many of our lives.
This research attempts to improve the Android smartphone usage experience for people with hand tremors. Through user interviews, shadow testing, and task analysis, a deeper insight was gained into the user and the issues they faced while using a phone. It was found that people with hand tremors have a tough time operating the touchscreen of their smartphones. Also, when they try to click pictures using their smartphones, they tend to be blurry due to tremors. Based on the finding, four kinds of gestures were identified that are frequently used: typing- continuous tapping, single taps, double taps, and scrolling.
Accessibility guidelines for web and mobile phones were referred to, and intervention in Graphical User Interface (GUI) was selected as one of the possible directions for a solution. After exploring potential domains of digital interfaces, touch target area, and spacing were chosen to be implemented on the selected four grid patterns. Several prototypes were made for each of them and were tested with a person with hand tremors. One of the prototypes was found to be better than the rest of the prototypes tested and was recommended by this research. Further, it was suggested that the GUI of the smartphone could be dynamically customised for a user in real-time based on hand tremor levels and frequency.
Student: Shubhangana Singh (M.Des. 2020-22)