Numerous studies have shown that strange nonchaotic attractors ( SNAs) can be observed generally in quasiperiodically forced systems. These systems could be one- or high- dimensional maps, continuous- time systems, or experimental models. Recently introduced measures of complexity based on recurrence plots can detect the transitions from quasiperiodic to chaotic motion via SNAs in the previously cited systems. We study here the case of continuous- time systems and experimental models. In particular, we show the performance of the recurrence measures in detecting transitions to SNAs in quasiperiodically forced excitable systems and experimental time series. (C) 2008 American Institute of Physics.