Open Access

Comparative evaluation of static gesture recognition techniques based on nearest neighbor, neural networks and support vector machines

Journal of the Brazilian Computer Society201016:9

Received: 27 November 2009

Accepted: 29 April 2010

Published: 9 June 2010


It is a common behavior for human beings to use gestures as a means of expression, as a complement to speaking, or as a self-contained communication mode. In the field of Human–Computer Interaction, this behavior can be adopted to build alternative interfaces, aiming to ease the relationship between the human element and the computational element. Currently, various gesture recognition techniques are described in the technical literature; however, the validation studies of these techniques are usually performed isolatedly, which complicates comparisons between them. To reduce this gap, this work presents a comparison between three well-established techniques for static gesture recognition, using Nearest Neighbor, Neural Networks, and Support Vector Machines as classifiers. These classifiers evaluate a common dataset, acquired from an instrumented glove, and generate results for precision and performance measurements. The results obtained show that the classifier implemented as a Support Vector Machine presented the best generalization, with the highest recognition rate. In terms of performance, all methods presented evaluation times fast enough to be used interactively. Finally, this work identifies and discusses a set of relevant criteria that must be observed for the training and evaluation steps, and its relation to the final results.


Human–computer interactionGesture recognitionAlternative interfacesNearest neighborNeural networksSupport vector machines