Is This The Year Of Gesture Control?

I always find it entertaining when I watch one of my friends writing code in Emacs because by and large it’s the exact same interaction that their fellow coders would have had in the early 80’s. Yes, the laptop they type on is infinitely lighter and more capable, but there is still a screen with a keyboard, and mouse as the input being used to write code in the same program. Not to mention the fact the keyboard layout most people use was invented in the late 1800’s.

Over the past decade there have been endless new technologies that have come out that have promised to change human computer interaction. These range from voice control to augmented reality but outside of one exception we still use computers the same way we used to.

The only game changing technology that has achieved large market adoption is the touch screen. Part of the reason of their success was the incredible investment in the space by the giants like Samsung, Apple and Corning. Today touch screens are ubiquitous and some people are starting to use them as their sole input device.

The new frontier is now gesture control. The first inkling of how big this type of technology could be was the introduction of the Nintendo Wii in November of 2006. This blew the gaming community away for a number of reasons. Not only did the technology work and was enjoyable, it opened a large community of people who had never considered a console game before. Four years later, the Microsoft Kinect went a step further and eliminated the controller in your hand completely.

Since then all bets were off. A number of apps for the Xbox have tried to integrate the gesture control, with limited success. To date the biggest problem has been wide spread adoption of the technology by the OEM’s who make the computers and TV’s we use. From our view we have seen more and more applications to Lemnos in this space, but the path to market is always uncertain.

For me, the company to watch in 2013 is Leap Motion. They have managed to crack the nut of getting into the major companies. Just like Gorilla Glass was just a research project without Apple’s pull, many gesture control devices lacked the scale of a major corp. Leap is not only selling their units through Best Buy but have also partnered with ASUS who is going to be integrating them into their laptops this year.

Part of me is still skeptical of gesture control. I remember using some of the early Kinect apps and my arms would get tired just trying to watch TV. Part of that may have been the implementation or the technology. I’m pumped to see what this year will bring in this area.