2018 seems to be the year that consumer tech manufacturers decided the time was right to start focusing on gesture control. To be fair, the concept has been around for quite some time, and in fact was first popularized in consumer tech by Steve Jobs in 2007—the year he showed the world how our fingers could help drive the smartphone experience. But now, these gesture controls are moving from actual physical touching to simply waving and motioning when near a device.
In just the past year we’ve covered a number of product launches and even conducted some reviews of products that include some sort of gesture-based control system: there’s the Bragi Dash Pro, which is able to read head nods, taps on the cheek, and more; Navdy is the heads up display unit that senses waves of the hand to dismiss notifications and accept phone calls; Elliptic labs is a smart speaker sensor technology that uses ultrasound to detect motion and allow the user to interact with a product through gesture control; and then there’s Sharp with their Microwave Drawer that has a gesture-activation feature called Easy Wave Open.
And that’s just what we’ve been able to cover.
Gesture control would seem to be the next logical step in the progression of user interfaces, given we’re already doing so much with our hands, fingers, heads, etc., in order to interact with our devices. Going back to Apple, their iPhone X has already started to push in that direction with the removal of the home button and their Face ID unlocking feature. And Apple is reportedly working on actual touch-less gestures for their 2018 phones, which could take this trend a step further.
Other manufacturers are working on products that would allow consumers to interact with other everyday devices through gesture controls. Emerging tech manufacturer Vicara has a new product called Kai that essentially is a programmable band that lets users interact with laptops and drones by simply moving their hand are wagging their finger.
Other more readily-available examples of product include Google’s Pixel Buds, which recently received two new gesture controls, toy drones that ship with gloves instead of RC controllers or joysticks, and other wearables like wristbands and rings that give you control over different devices.
The promise of gesture control is that it will allow the user to interact with and control their devices even if their hands are holding something else or their in some way inhibited from physically holding the device they’re trying to control. The immediate downside is the inevitable learning curve of these new interfaces, but gesture control is something we’ve been practicing and preparing for, ever since touchscreen smartphones made their way into our pockets.
What We’re Reading
- PicoBrew has a new product that can brew everything from tea, to coffee, to beer, to kombucha. (CNET)
- A gaming startup named Wonder is working on an Android-powered competitor to the Nintendo Switch. (The Verge)
- The Senate is expected to vote today on an order that would put a stop to the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules. (TechCruch)