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We have an application that will be deployed all over Europe, and must be usable by anyone walking up to it, regardless of language. We have thus far been successful at communicating non-verbally to the user, but are somewhat stuck at the moment.

We have a timeout screen after some amount of inactivity, and we want to ask the user if they need more time to complete their transaction. Currently, we have an animated progress meter and a countdown to the application timing out back to home, but it pretty much just seems like a countdown that pops up out of nowhere.

tldr

We need to show the user that their session is about to expire if they don't interact with the system in some way.

How might I go about communicating the question "do you need more time" without using words, or in an otherwise language-independent way?

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    I don't think this question is off topic. The question of "How do I communicate 'do you need more time' visually?" is not the same as "What is an icon for this?" There was no mention of icons anywhere. It's frustrating when high-rep users are more excited to close questions than they are to help other users. I'll edit the question. – maxathousand Jul 27 '16 at 13:59
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One option that you could consider is combining the count down timer that you mention with another convention: dim the screen a bit with the countdown to represent the application is becoming inactive.

This pattern is common in laptops and smart phones. Many devices will dim the screen for a short time before going into an inactive state (e.g. screen saver, sleep mode, locked mode, etc). Any interaction with the device while the screen is in this intermediate state will reactivate the screen, but otherwise it gracefully transitions without surprising the user.

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    Excellent suggestion. I will bring this suggestion up with the others. Thank you. – Travis Jul 25 '16 at 22:03

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