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Microsoft Shows Off Its Vision For Gesture-Controlled PCs 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the wave-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-just-don't-care dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has demoed a prototype gesture-controlled PC using an augmented version of its Kinect motion sensing system. The rig detects 16 gestures and can be used to navigate Windows 8. Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them, and the system favors simple gestures made just above the keyboard, rather than more elaborate Minority Report-style gestures. '[A] window is maximized by clenching a fist to "grab" it and then opening the hand while moving towards the top of the keyboard. Performing the same series of gestures in reverse minimize the window. Repeating the gesture while moving the hand to the left or right edge of the keyboard docks the window with the left or right edge of the screen. The same series of gestures while moving the hand to the top left and right corners of the keyboard will throw the window to the left or right of screen, but not dock it with the edge. Bringing hands together in the middle of the keyboard and then moving them to the keyboard's left and right edge with palms down and fingers splayed will show the desktop. Repeating the gesture restores the original view.'"
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Microsoft Shows Off Its Vision For Gesture-Controlled PCs

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  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:45AM (#44971555) Homepage

    When you raise your middle finger?

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:47AM (#44971587)
      I've been using the same gesture at Windows machines for years. Doesn't do any good.
    • Instant FORMAT C:
    • by PPH (736903)

      Reboot.

      You've finally got your wish [slashdot.org] Mr. Gates. One finger to reset the system.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:48AM (#44971599) Homepage Journal

    Touchscreens are a big enough step down from mouse and keyboard for getting utility out of computers. Can we just skip all the steps until AI conversation/mind reading? Thanks.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by gl4ss (559668)

      we can skip it but the fucking researchers sure wont. because they have no imagination and they have to do something.

      yes, this takes no imagination to come up with. thus people have came up with such ui's for years and years and nobody really has come up why you would use a system like that unless your hands were covered in poo or something.

      • by lgw (121541)

        Samsung TVs have similar simple gestures. I can only hope the gestures are standardized before this all gets out of .. hand.

        For controlling something like a TV it's nice - rarely needed, useful to select between a .. handful of options on screen, but nicer than reaching for the remote for that purpose. I'm not sure I wouldn't prefer a good voice activated system for such simple tasks, though - hopefully I'll get to try both ways on my next TV - I guess there are times when a gesture for "mute" would be mu

    • This version of gestures actually looks very usable. Just map the gestures to what makes sense for your workflow. Unless you have a clenching fist tick it won't get in the way.

      This is way better than touchscreen for desktop. No gorilla arm syndrome for daily use but could be extended to LeapMotion like controls for when you do want fine control (maybe use a gesture to turn that on/off or stick with a hot key if it is too easy to do by chance).

      • by P-niiice (1703362)
        I agree. Leave your mouse hand where it is, and quickly flick a window out of the way or maximize it. Makes sense, and could be seamless if done right.
    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      Actually, if these gestures are right above the keyboard and simplify annoying things like maximizing windows, it could work. Far better than touchscreens. They'd have to be non-mouse hand only so that you could be right there after the gesture.
  • Add this to Cars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:49AM (#44971609)

    Cars should have this! There is no good reason to lean forward and touch a screen to adjust the volume and skip a track. If we had gestures in cars that would be a real breakthrough.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:05PM (#44971819) Homepage

      Cars should have this! There is no good reason to lean forward and touch a screen to adjust the volume and skip a track. If we had gestures in cars that would be a real breakthrough.

      Let's think this one through, AC.

      Imagine going down your typical American freeway, surrounded by barely controlled four ton (3600 kg) home entertainment centers at 70 mph (110 km/hr for the rest of you). Now, imagine, if you will, that same freeway with half the 'drivers' gesticulating wildly trying to get the last Justin Bieber track to play again.

      Violence will ensue.

      • It would make an awesome TV show though.

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        Except you typical American Freeway does not have a speed limit of 70 mph, and four tons is heavier than every single non-commercial vehicle in the world.
        • Except you typical American Freeway does not have a speed limit of 70 mph, and four tons is heavier than every single non-commercial vehicle in the world.

          "Typical" is a loaded word, as so much depends on one's local geographic context. 70 mph is common in Washington state outside of urban areas, for instance.

          Four tons might sound like hyperbole; however, some larger SUVs do come close, or even exceed that mark. For example, the Hummer H2 [wikipedia.org] has a curb weight of 6,400-6,600 pounds, depending on engine configuration -- essentially 3.25 tons US. The gross vehicular weight tips the scales at 8,600 pounds [answers.com], over 4.25 tons. And it sounds like some Hummer models (p

        • by rsborg (111459)

          Except you typical American Freeway does not have a speed limit of 70 mph

          You're right. Most of France's Freeway equivalents (Autoroutes) are 130kph = 80mph. Were you trying to imply that 70mph is somehow fast? When I was living there, I'd constantly do 140-160kph when no one else was on the road, and have pushed easily over 200 on bare stretches when I had access to a nicer rental. I wasn't the only one.

      • by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday September 27, 2013 @02:32PM (#44973437)

        Now, imagine, if you will, that same freeway with half the 'drivers' gesticulating wildly trying to get the last Justin Bieber track to play again.

        Violence will ensue.

        If things even get so bad that half the drivers on the freeway want to hear Justin Bieber again, I'd think a good culling would be a desirable outcome...

    • by Kazman20 (2935619)
      I thought the break through was when they installed thumb controls on my steering wheel , now i can keep both hands on the steering wheel and operate all the accessories. no need to wave my hands around the car.
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Hell the voice commands on mine are pretty snazzy. You can tune directly to radio stations etc. Push the on-wheel button with your thumb, it beeps, and you say (for example) "tune to ninety seven point one" and away it goes to 97.1 FM. It also understands that "six hundred" couldn't possibly be an FM radio station and tunes to AM 600khz.

        Presumably you can use this for much more than just radio stations but I haven't experimented. In any case, the voice activation button shows data on the dash screen about w

        • by gtall (79522)

          User: Computer, could you please open MS Pooperpoint?

          Computer: Pooperpoint? I don't have control of the toilet, would you like me to arrange that?

          User: No! Okay, open MS Powerpoint.

          Computer: Too late, I now have control of the toilet.

          User: Please open MS Powerpoint.

          Computer: I cannot do that, Dave, I flushed all your Powerpoint presentations, that's what you requested, yes?

          User: Please go stick your head in the toilet.

          Computer: ** burble bubble bibble ** Wow, that was refreshing, Dave. We here at MS Voice C

    • Maybe you plebs can't, but I've got steering wheel controls on my car. Problem solved

      Plus car software and hardware is light years behind terrestrial software and nobody can get gestures reliable and useful there. There's no hope for cars.

  • Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:52AM (#44971653) Homepage

    So no I have to lift my hands from the keyboard to control stuff?

    Just how many of the normal motions I make with my hands will trigger random window events?

    Sorry guys, but this sounds like a terrible idea, and not one I'd be interested in.

    So does having a camera/motion tracker in front of me all day long, especially since Microsoft has already tipped their hand at being able to gather all sorts of extra data with it.

    • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday September 27, 2013 @11:59AM (#44971753)

      I have to lift my hands from the keyboard to control stuff?

      Don't worry, this is just Microsoft trying to look innovative. This, too, shall pass.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Oh, I'm sure they'll keep trying to look innovative. ;-)

        I just think they seem to be missing the mark and coming up with stuff that everyone is asking "what the hell would I want that for?"

        • It would be hysterical to release a bunch of flies/mosquitos into a room of testers.

          Windows opening & closing all over the place as they try to grab/swat them.

        • Oh, they are. Ammonia sorbet. That's innovative. A double ended scalpel. How about a shredder attachment for a printer?

    • by Megane (129182)

      Just how many of the normal motions I make with my hands will trigger random window events?

      I have a bad enough time with "tap to click" on touchpads. It inevitably generates false-positive clicks just from me moving the pointer around. And I've had this happen both on OS X and Windows laptops. (The Windows laptop incident was a couple of weeks ago, on someone's nearly brand new laptop running W8, so it's not an OS-specific problem, or old touchpad technology.)

      The two-finger "right click" thing may be enticing, but it'll probably generate clicks while using two-finger scrolling, which is the ONLY

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      If you're typing, you wouldn't need to gesture. Same way you don't need to use the mouse while typing, unless there's that rare time you type with one hand while mousing. And even then, either hand should be able to gesture. It sounds pretty usable, actually.
    • > So no I have to lift my hands from the keyboard to control stuff?

      Not only that, they seem to think waving hands is in some way more efficient than a keyboard shortcut. It's a gimmick, nothing more.

      Autohotkey makes life much easier than any of this stuff.

  • After mainly using Windows 8 at home "...Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them..." seems like a complete 180. Using a keyboard in Windows 8 feels like im using some new beta device with sketchy drivers.
    • you're doing it wrong....

      All of my goto shortcuts that I use on a daily basis work just fine. That includes some of the ones introduced in Windows 8 to access charms. I edited a registry key to disable the mouse-in/mouse-out actions for left, right and bottom screen. However I use win+i to open the control panel charm to shutdown the computer when I need to. You may just need a primer for windows 8 shortcuts

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:44PM (#44972279)
      My opinion is that MS doesn't do well with simplicity and minimalism. You might say that Win 8 is a step in that direction but in order to use Modern well, you need a touchscreen. Add this new sensor, that's 4 different interfaces. That's not simpler; it's more complex.
  • ...Microsoft said it wants gestures to complement what is possible using mouse and keyboard, rather than replacing them...

    Didn't Microsoft say a similar thing about the new interface in Windows 8 and the Start Menu? Yet Microsoft tried burying the Start Menu, only to be chastised by its customers for doing Yet Another Stupid Thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft is now attempting to drive the norm in PC interaction to something requiring their hardware and the use of patents they hold.

  • people would be singing its praises and talking about how totally amazing it is, but since it's MS... well, we can't do that now, can we :)

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:14PM (#44971907)
      Google already did [google.com] but it was an April Fool's joke in 2011. Typical MS: their joke is 30 months late and not as well executed. What you mean this is real? ;). I can see applications for Kinect for Windows but just not as a replacement for a keyboard and mouse that is right there. For presentations it might be okay.
      • I wonder if Google's April Fool joke will count as prior art for invalidating the inevitable patents that MS will try to surround this technology with.

        Not to mention the gesture interface operated by Tom Cruise in the Minority Report movie...

      • by BeerCat (685972)

        Google already did [google.com] but it was an April Fool's joke in 2011.

        And Douglas Adams did it before Google even existed:

        A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.
        Zaphod waved a hand and the channel switched again.

        (grabbed from http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=1329 [technovelgy.com])

      • by MtViewGuy (197597)

        It was a joke at the time, but rapid advances in technology in the last year or so could actually turn the "Gmail Motion" idea in actual reality.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Nope, it would still be stupid.
      Touch interfaces only work when their are no other options, this crap is being done right above a perfectly good alternative.

    • I actually think this is awesome. If they can license leap motions tech as well, even better. Yes hot keys could do some of this but some things like scrolling and zooming would be better as gestures. Lots of people don't keep hands on keyboard at all times either for legitimate reasons. Many many people use a mouse as their primary input and only type when necessary. If this could replace the mouse as a general pointer like a virtual track pointer (aka nipple), it would be great.

    • Didn't you get the memo? Apple and Google are hated on Slashdot almost as much as Microsoft now. But since its a bad idea its only a matter of time before Gnome adds this feature.
    • by geek (5680)

      people would be singing its praises and talking about how totally amazing it is, but since it's MS... well, we can't do that now, can we :)

      What makes you think that? I'm platform agnostic and even I think waving your hands around in front of a screen is more a kin to what crazy people do than what productive technology does.

      I think talking to my gadgets is lame too (Apple, Google). Everyone seems to be trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Keyboards and mice work very well.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apple wouldn't demo until they developed it into a useful, shipping product.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:10PM (#44971863) Homepage Journal

    It sounds to me like bringing up the desktop requires a variation on a praying gesture. :)

    • by msobkow (48369)

      No, I didn't read the article or watch any videos.

      But bringing the hands together sounds like a position of prayer to me. :D

  • Do you know why touch is ultimately bad for desktops? Because it isn't very precise. And now they want to add a system that is even less precise.

    This looks cool, but once the wow factor wears off, will anyone want to use this interface for any length of time?

    • by taustin (171655)

      Do you know why touch is ultimately bad for desktops? Because it isn't very precise. And now they want to add a system that is even less precise

      That's their point, though. The less precise the UI, the less control you have over the computer. And their goal is for you to have no control over your computer whatsoever. That way, the only thing you will be able to do, all day long, is consume their ads. The only way around the ads will be paid for content (which will only reduce the ads, and convert them to paid product placement ads). Eventually, I suspect, they will try to do away with the off switch.

      I wish I were exaggerating for effect.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... I'd like to smugly suggest Microsoft look into a tabbed window manager. It'll help you avoid waving your arms around like an idiot when you just want to do something simple with your computer.

  • I might be surprised, but I don't expect to use gestures much when I'm using the keyboard and mouse. I don't want more—I want better replacements. I have never used the idiotic "Windows" key, nor do I ever click the mouse's scroll wheel. I use the function keys more than my colleagues, and that's not much, because the things I use them for I learned before Windows and mice. Though I like the idea of a Dvorak keyboard, I'm not going to bother with it because it only offers an incremental improvement. S
  • I'm glad they qualified it with augment, not replace, keyboard and mouse. Big, arm-waving gestures are cute for a sci-fi movie or a novelty, but stupid for reality. When they do finger gestures as my hands rest at the keyboard and mouse, let me know.

    Even "mouse gestures" where you waggle the cursor in spirals and vague rectangles went nowhere.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:34PM (#44972157) Homepage Journal

    "Benvenuto a Micarosofta Supporta. Owa can I a helpa you?"

    "All a my filesa are disparata! Whassa go on? Anche I sold my casa on eBai for a packa di cigarettas. And I donta even smoka!"

    "Awhat a you toucha?"

    "Nieddu, no toucheda niente. I was a justa askinga mi colleghi if they wanta coffee..."

  • by martyb (196687) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:37PM (#44972187)

    Just how in the world do they expect us to automate our tests, now? Will we have to program little hand-waving robots to make gestures? And we'll, of course, need different-sized hands and fingers, too.

    Just imagine a room full of computers with hand waving robots whirring around running unit, functional, and system tests of a new app.

    Then imagine filing a bug report with explicit steps to reproduce.

    Oh, this will be fun.

  • I really don't get. Why is it so hugely popular on /. to jump on MS so hard? People go on and on and how BSOD jokes and so on, but I just don't get it. Windows, IMO has been very stable since XP. and W8 is very stable, regardless whether you like the new UI or not. Heck, windows has been amazingly secure when you consider the amount of users /hackers concentrating their efforts on the platform.
    I would say, at the present time, Microsoft is much more inventive than Apple. And yet Apple gets the most innovati

    • by Megane (129182)

      I really don't get. Why is it so hugely popular on /. to jump on Apple so hard? People go on and on and how expensive it is jokes and so on, but I just don't get it. OS X, IMO has been very stable since 10.3. and Mavericks is very stable, regardless whether you like the new UI or not. Heck, OS X has been amazingly secure when you consider the amount of users /hackers concentrating their efforts on the platform. I would say, at the present time, Apple is much more inventive than Microsoft. And yet Microsoft

    • by matt328 (916281)
      All the hate is because I have enough RSI just using a keyboard and mouse for 8 hours a day. Get comfy in your chair, now hold your hands out 6" above your keyboard for 60 seconds. Next try 5 minutes. How uncomfortable will you be after physically gesturing with your hands for 8 hours? How about after a week of 8 hour days doing that? 6 months or a year?

      Windows isn't a thing I use when I'm bored at home and want to surf the web for a bit. As a professional engineer working at a company where its us
      • by digsbo (1292334)

        ... now hold your hands out 6" above your keyboard for 60 seconds. Next try 5 minutes. How uncomfortable will you be after physically gesturing with your hands for 8 hours? How about after a week of 8 hour days doing that? 6 months or a year?

        What you're describing is quite similar to what an orchestra conductor does. And, in between periods of conducting, they often curse at the orchestra in anger because it didn't do what was intended. Maybe we'll see Windows 9 marketed with a "Conductor" UI?

    • Why is it so hugely popular on /. to jump on MS so hard?

      Do you really need someone to explain this to you? It sounds like you're just being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

      Just in case you're truly confused by this, after all your years on /., I'll let you in on the secret: Most people around here work with technology professionally or are at least technology enthusiasts. A common belief among these people, which is backed up by some solid evidence, is that Microsoft has in the past and continues to engage in extremely unethical business practices wh

  • Dear Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday September 27, 2013 @12:46PM (#44972289)
    I want a keyboard, a mouse and Windows 7. Anything GUI wise that belongs on a phone/tablet or involves me talking out loud or waving at my PC, well basically, sod off.
  • So does it restart, shut down or turn on the webcam and start up chat roulette? I can think of a few gestures done regularly in front of a PC.
  • The film Minority Report is going to single-handedly do more damage to UI design than even the falling cost of touch-screen technology.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Michael J. Fox sits down in front of one!!!

  • Hola que tal un interesante nota algunas de veces las actualización de la tecnología trae beneficios en otras no saludos. http://www.oscarherrera.info/blog/como-monitorear-tus-pines-en-pinterest/#more-709 [oscarherrera.info]
  • We've reached that awkward stage in technology, where the things you routinely disable on a machine are approaching parity with the things you enable. Gestures are one of the first things I disabled on my laptop. Finger print scanner? Don't use, which is essentially disable. Most scripts on web pages? There are plug-ins to disable them. Windows 8 UI? Third party apps were made to roll it back. And so on and so forth. It's all core wars now.

  • It'll never make it to production and all the nerds will mourn what could have been... (Microsoft Surface (the original), the folding book thing, the microsoft house of the future, etc etc)
  • I really REALLY don't want to take my hands off the keyboard to do some stupid-ass gesture. It's a waste of time and breaks my flow of thought. I begrudge even reaching for the mouse. Now they want to add a third set of inputs?

    This sounds like an idea that came from marketing, requiring overriding the ergonomic group when they violently objected. It's a "feature" that gives the salescreatures something to play with at trade shows.

    • by paiute (550198)

      I really REALLY don't want to take my hands off the keyboard to do some stupid-ass gesture.

      I felt a great disturbance, as if millions of rotator cuff muscles cried out at once.

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