Bezel Swipe: Conflict-Free Scrolling and Multiple Selection on Mobile Touch Screen Devices

This is joint work with Thea Turner.


Zooming user interfaces are popular on mobile devices with touch screens. Swiping and pinching finger gestures anywhere on the screen manipulate the displayed portion of a page, and taps open objects within the page. This makes navigation easy but limits other manipulations of objects that would be supported naturally by the same gestures, notably cut and paste, multiple selection, and drag and drop. A popular device that suffers from this limitation is Apple's iPhone. We developed Bezel Swipe, an interaction technique that supports multiple selection, cut, copy, paste and other operations without interfering with zooming, panning, tapping and other pre-defined gestures. Participants of our user study found Bezel Swipe to be a viable alternative to direct touch selection.


The user starts a Bezel Swipe gesture on the bezel, which is the physical touch insensitive frame that surrounds the display. The finger is then swiped through a part of the display edge into the display, which enters selection mode. Next, the user moves the finger onto an object or display position and selects it by lifting the finger off the display, which ends selection mode. Different edge portions represent different actions and are distinctively marked. In our prototype, we use a thin colored bar. Single objects, such as image thumbnails, can be selected with one swipe. Text regions can be marked by first selecting the start with one swipe. A second swipe selects the end and performs the action e.g., it cuts the selected text region. This two-step process is comparable to the mark and yank operations in the Emacs text editor, and allows users to select regions that are larger than the display without the need for automatic scrolling.

Shows the Bezel Swipe prototype in action.
Bezel Swipe takes advantage of the edge of a touch display, enabling users to easily access functionality by activating a thin button. The finger movement continues to the target, without requiring the user to lift it and reposition it over the target. In addition, because the finger is continuously in contact with the display, Bezel Swipe can provide feedback to the user, enabling them to fine tune their selections before committing to them. We evaluated Bezel Swipe's usefulness in an image selection task. Participants in our usability study liked Bezel Swipe and found it to be a reasonable alternative to direct touch selection.

Associated publications

  1. Volker Roth and Thea Turner. 2009. Bezel swipe: conflict-free scrolling and multiple selection on mobile touch screen devices. In Proc. CHI. ACM, 1523–1526.
    Demo on YouTube (predates iPhone SDK)
  2. Volker Roth Volker Roth. Multiple selection on devices with many gestures. United States Patent US8924892 B2, Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., December 2014.