Reimagining the experience of controlling a presentation using touch gestures on a mobile device

The Context

This was an exploratory project during my internship with the Microsoft Office team. The project aims at exploring experiences with respect to presentation of content on/with touch devices, including mobile.

The Process

Understanding presentations

Some questions:

  • What does "presentation" mean?
  • Why do people have to present?
  • How is presenting expected to change in future?
  • What are the current means through which presentations happen?
  • What devices are used for presentations?
  • What situations arise during the course of a presentation?
  • Who are the people who present?
  • What the different contexts in which presentations are carried out?
Initial understanding:
  • Presentations are created and consumed by a wide group of people.
  • They all have a central purpose, which is usually to convey ideas.
  • The kind of content presented depends on the purpose and type of target audience.

Understanding Touch Devices

Some questions:

  • What sizes are they available in?
  • What are their form factors?
  • What are the nature of interaction?
  • What are their typical usage patterns?
  • Who are the people who use them?
  • In what contexts are touch devices used?
  • What value does it provide over traditional devices?
Initial understanding:
  • Touch is increasingly being used as a preferred mode of input for devices.
  • Touch interactions specific to presentation scenarios needs to be explored more.

Behavioural Changes Leading into the Future

Summary of takeaways based on the blog here

  • Audiences' reduced attention spans
  • Increased demand for visual information
  • Speakers will zoom out to the big picture of their presentation before zooming into the details.
  • Needs of the audience assessed in real time & content adjusted in real time
  • More presentations will be given virtually than in an actual space
  • More than 50% of professional presentations will be controlled via mobile device

The Target User Group

Based on Microsoft's current target user group for Microsoft Office, and the fact that the most frequent users of presentations are folks at their workplace, the target user group was narrowed down to business users.


  • Their job role require them to present often
  • More generic and broad requirements of presentations
  • Own at least 1 touch device like phone or tablet

Primary research and insights

Primary research was conducted by employing 3 methods

  • Interviews: 7 participants
  • Survey: 42 participants
  • Live presentation observations: 3 presentations


  • Lack of assistance in situations of anxiety
  • Familiarity leads to confidence
  • Importance of audience engagement
  • Articulating presentation content
  • Current usage of touch devices
  • Difficulty with follow up activities

Redefining the design brief

To improve the experience of presenting content to an audience by making the process more comfortable to the presenter and by leveraging touch as a medium of interaction through devices like mobile or tablet.

Analyzing other presentation controller apps

Microsoft Office Remote
Apple Keynote
Unified remote


  • Distinguish Intentional Interactions
  • Focus on Primary Functions like Navigation
  • Essential details visible at a glance
  • Device pairing needs to be seamless

Insights & directions

1. Situations of Anxiety

Most problems faced by presenters is when they’re put in an uncomfortable situation. There is not much technological assistance in such situations.

2. Familiarity with Tools

Users tend to use technology or software that they are more familiar with while presenting because of a higher sense of confidence.

3. Current usage

A smartphone or any other touch device is not currently preferred for creating presentations. Though, users have used such devices for viewing or browsing presentations.

4. Follow up activities

Follow up activities like action points and sharing presentation content are difficult to track and complete.

Interaction explorations

About 50 different unique interaction concepts were explored before arriving at the final set of proposals

Interaction design parameters for narrowing down from the explorations:

  • Affordances for Gestures
  • Gesture Feedback
  • Relevance of Touch
  • Leverage Advantages of Tangibility
  • Information First Policy
  • No-Look Fallback

Final concepts

Launching the app for the first time would allow the user to connect to any of their preferred cloud based storage. All presentations on the linked cloud based account would automatically be available to be presented via Presto.

First time launch of the app

For business users who have their AV infrastructure integrated with Presto will be able to directly pair wirelessly to any nearby display devices.

Pairing with a display device

Once Presto is linked to a display device, tapping on any presentation on the app will start the presentation on the display device as well.

Launching a presentation

Partially moving a card will not advance to the next slide to avoid accidental touches

Avoid accidental touches

To capture the presenter's intent of wanting to move a slide correctly, a complete edge to edge swipe is required.

Swipe edge to edge to advance a slide

Presenters can quickly move to their required slide while not actually changing the slide that is being displayed on the display device

Long press and tilt to quickly move to a bookmarked slide

Control video playback on mobile without interfering with the projected content

Video playback

Some presenters would rather not want to look at the mobile screen during the presentation. The minimal view can be used to focus on interacting with the audience but still use familiar interactions to control the presentation.

Switch to a Minimal view

The minimal view uses more familiar swipe gestures to move between slides while still capturing the presenter's intent through an edge to edge swipe.

Navigation on the minimal view

While tapping and holding on the progress area, users can scrub through the titles of different slides and release to move to that slide.

Jump to a specific slide on the minimal view

Limitations & future scope

  • Working prototype required complex gestures to be defined and hence was excluded out of the scope.
  • The final app concept has a learning curve with respect to first time user onboarding.