Mapping and visualizing 3D gesture space

Based on data stemming from semi-structured interviews conducted in the Natural Media Lab, a prototype of a new method to map and visualize speakers' three-dimensional gesture spaces was developed. Taking a pragmatic approach, the locations in which the gestures were produced were correlated with their respective functions (referential, modal, interactive, etc.)

The method developed in this thesis subdivides the 3D space available for gestural communication into minimal segments, and measures the gesture density for each segment over the course of a conversation. The resulting data are visualized in two or three dimensions (see illustrations), which allows us to study the spatial and temporal structure of gesture spaces with unprecedented precision. The results offer new insights into natural gesture production in terms of both the influence of communicative function on gesture location as well as individual communication styles.


  • Priesters, Matthias A. (2012): Functional patterns in gesture space. Correlating location and function of gestures using 3D motion capture technology. Unpublished M.A. thesis, RWTH Aachen.
  • Priesters, Matthias A. & Irene Mittelberg (2013): Individual differences in speakers' gesture spaces: Multi-angle views from a motion-capture study. Proceedings of the Tilburg Gesture Research Meeting (TiGeR), June 19-21, 2013. Link