Chances are pretty good that you communicate with others via gestures quite a bit: whether it’s a warning hand held up to a misbehaving child, a wave to a friend or a rude hand signal to a driver who just cut you off, gesturing is an important part of the way we communicate. It may soon be an important part of the way we interact with machinery as well.
“Gesture control” or “gesture recognition” is likely to be a hot topic for 2013. It’s the technology of interpreting human gestures -- facial, hand or whole body -- via mathematical algorithms. While there are already consumer solutions on the market that interpret gestures, particularly in the video gaming environment (think Microsoft’s (News - Alert) Kinect box, which allows users to interact with gaming systems using movement), the gestures are generally standardized and need to be rather dramatic. Future research is likely to focus on more subtle areas, such as facial emotion recognition, or sign language recognition. It’s likely to be a welcome technology frontier for people with disabilities.
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Gesture recognition today uses both cameras and computer vision algorithms to interpret movement, and technologies are proceeding at a rapid clip. In the near future, it will likely to be possible to point a finger at the computer screen to move the cursor, highlight text or initiate a search. This could potentially make conventional input devices such as mouse, keyboards and even touchscreens redundant.
There are already gesture recognition applications that consumers can use to interact with popular Web sites via gestures. Flutter is one: it’s an application that allows a computer’s Web cam to “read” gestures and control some media players like iTunes, Windows Media Player, VLC, and QuickTime. Users can move from one spot on a playlist to another, and even pause the player.
Flutter has now expanded into new terrain. A recent update has extended support for Google (News - Alert) Chrome, PowerPoint, and Keynote. The Flutter Chrome extension now allows users to employ hand gestures on YouTube, Pandora, Grooveshark, and Netflix. A future version of Flutter will be available for mobile devices as well, according to GigaOm.
All in all, the new release should allow more people to control the music and entertainment they listen to via gestures. Just be careful how vigorously you dance, lest you change the channel.
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