Heat maps are an important usability tool for visualising eye gaze data, mouse movement or click interaction on web pages. Regarding mobile applications however, use cases for heat maps are still limited. For example, eye tracking is difficult to realise due to limitations imposed by mobility or hardware requirements. Moreover, heat maps for understanding multi-touch interaction have not been used as a usability tool for mobile applications yet. Thus, we have been working on concepts in order to generate heat maps for finger-based multi-touch interaction. Our goal is to provide a usability tool for mobile applications, which can be used in studies with a huge number of test participants in real-world environments. As a bene fit, developers and designers will be able to comprehend user interaction within mobile applications, which aids in identifying commonly used touch gestures, focus areas and points of interest without the need for additional and bulky hardware. Ongoing research also comprises the development of concepts in order to directly compare heatmaps from different user groups and to visualise gesture usage of large user groups.

An early version of the presented approach was used during a feasibility study with 10 test participants that performed 10 repetitions of a task in an Android application for the elderly. The following figure shows the generated result for a contact list. Scrolling (i.e drag, click) gestures can be identi fed as horizontal or vertical bars with a higher touch frequency at the points where the desired content is located.


Based on the results from this very early study, further research has been conducted in order to visualise touch gestures and also to map heatmaps on top of real screenshots. This approach was recently used during a small feasibility study with the Runtastic app for Android.



2015 C. Holzmann, J. Rieseneder – Creating Heat Maps for Mobile Applications with Dynamic Content – Extended Abstract Book of the 15th International Conference on Computer Aided Systems Theory (EUROCAST 2015), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, 2015.
2012 F. Lettner, C. Holzmann – Heat Maps as a Usability Tool for Multi-Touch Interaction in Mobile Applications – Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia (MUM 2012), Ulm, Germany, 2012. [acm]


runtastic GmbH, Austria


Florian Lettner, Clemens Holzmann, Josef Rieseneder*
Department of Mobile Computing, University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Austria
florian.lettner [at] fh-hagenberg.at

* student in the Master’s degree programme Mobile Computing