Tom comes back home after a long day’s work. At the door, he uses his fingers to draw a hexagonal pattern in the air to pass security and enter. He leaves his bag by the table and flicks his wrist to turn on the heating. Tom then settles down to watch his favourite TV show, waving to scroll, pointing to pause and tapping to rewind. A little while later, the lights turned off by a nod of the head, he’s away for a well-deserved rest.
Gesture control has already begun to have a significant impact on the computing industry with users being able to input text into their devices mid-air, audiences interacting with presentations, and service robots that use image processing to be gesture control enabled. As the concepts of an always-on world, ubiquitous computing and the much vaunted “Internet of Things” gain mileage, so does the search for an intuitive, unobtrusive user interface. One only has to look as far back as the proliferation of touch interfaces to understand the consumer appeal of improved UIs. Enabled through a variety of methods - cameras, 3D sensors and wearable devices - gesture control is also driving emergent technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and wearable computing. And with recent technological developments ironing out kinks rapidly accelerating the progress of the technology, gesture control is currently the most intuitive human-machine interface available to manufacturers, users and developers.
Wearable devices perhaps create the most opportunity for industry adoption of gesture control as professionals are no longer restricted by the need to be near a stationary computing device. For instance, surgeons can use gesture control to flick through X-ray reports, diagnosis details and patient profiles through during procedures. Another instance could be engineers controlling various moving parts of a machine during maintenance and repair. Combined with augmented reality, gesture control also offers great opportunities for training and education. Students can now design, model and manipulate 3D objects onscreen under the guidance of their tutor, allowing educators to combine theory with practice.
Retailers have the opportunity to supercharge their quest to create immersive consumer experiences. Augmented reality experiences combined with gesture control can lead to focused, personalized campaigns unlike anything previously possible. Furthermore, with recent developments in robotics allowing human beings and robots to collaborate in the workplace, gesture-controlled robots would allow for increased efficiency, productivity and safety in industrial scenarios.
Industry leaders across verticals have recognized the potential of gesture control technology and this is reflected in recent developments i.e. Apple’s patent for a gesture based UI designed to control 3D objects, Google’s acquisition of Y-combinator backed gesture control startup, Flutter, and Intel’s decision to build in their proprietary gesture control tech into PCs from 2014.
While several other UI options are under development, from brain-computer interfaces to eye-controlled computer operations, gesture control, at this point, is best primed for the global adoption required to be ubiquitous.
Do you see gesture control being the future of user interfaces? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.