Designing an Effective Vibration-Based Notification Interface for Mobile Phones

Designing an Effective Vibration-Based Notification Interface for Mobile Phones


Bahador Saket, Chrisnawan Prasojo, Yongfeng Huang, Shengdong Zhao



We conducted an experiment to understand how mobile phone users perceive the urgency of ten simple vibration alerts that were created from four basic signals: short on, short off, long on, and long off. The short and long signals correspond to 200 ms and 600 ms, respectively. To convey the level of urgency of notifications and help users prioritize them, the design of mobile phone vibration alerts should consider that the gap length preceding or succeeding a signal, the number of gaps in the vibration pattern, and the vibration’s duration affect an alert’s perceived level of urgency. Our study specifically shows that shorter gap lengths between vibrations (200 ms vs. 600 ms), a vibration pattern with one gap instead of two, and shorter vibration all contribute to making the user perceive the alert as more urgent.

Author Keywords

Vibration patterns; mobile phone; perceived urgency; notifications; alerts.

ACM Classification Keywords

H.5.3 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Group and Organization Interfaces – Computer-supported cooperative work, Synchronous interaction, Collaborative computing.


Shen is an HCI professor at the National University of Singapore working on realizing his vision of HeadsUp Computing, a new Interaction paradigm that can transform the way we live and interact with computers. In his free time, Shen loves to read, run, spend time with family and friends, and explore nature.

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