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Handhelds Input Devices

Control Your Apps Without Your Finger 119

VincenzoRomano writes "You won't need to swipe your fingers over smallish touch screens. You'll move your arms, hands and fingers (or whatever else applies) in the air or shake the handset. The phone camera(s), the G-sensor, the compass and so on will be used by a software to understand the gestures and to translate them into control commands. This breakthrough comes from a company called GestureTek, a non-startup company in this field." I love the idea of my screen no longer being smudged. I hate the idea of people doing this on a bus.
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Control Your Apps Without Your Finger

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  • *yawn* (Score:2, Insightful)

    I love the idea of my screen no longer being smudged.

    Oh no! You have to spend all of 3 seconds to wipe off your screen occasionally.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:55AM (#30695338) Homepage
    (Gets bag of popcorn, sits on park bench)

    This ought to be amusing.
    • Imagine what you could accomplish doing the 'funky chicken' in front of your phone...

    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:04PM (#30696482) Journal

      Back when Bluetooth first came out, we used to play the game "Wireless Headset or Missed His Meds", where we'd watch someone walk down the street talking to himself and try to figure out if he was using a headset or just talking to himself.

      This adds a whole new dimension to the game.

      "He's not shaking his phone up and down, he's masturbating on a porn page"

      I can see the marketing song for this, to the Village People's "YMCA":

      "Young man! Want to open that app?
      I say.
      Touch Screen! covers your screen with crap,
      so now,
      Gestures!, keep your hands off your screen,
      and then,

      Open your apps to the Y! M! C! A!
      Dance, tap, and shake your phone the touchless way.

      You can open an app,
      your phone stays free of crap,
      you can stay in great shape
      and then you, can, wave, like an ape...

      • Back when Bluetooth first came out, we used to play the game "Wireless Headset or Missed His Meds", where we'd watch someone walk down the street talking to himself and try to figure out if he was using a headset or just talking to himself.

        There's was actually a fairly brilliant ad here in Canada for Rogers -- a cable and cell phone company.

        They show this little old lady with a walker going down the road, apparently talking to herself, and saying all sorts of strange things and getting the corresponding str

      • Genius.

    • I have to agree, it's like Earth: Final Conflict's interfaces for the shuttles.
    • by puppet10 ( 84610 )


      Passer-by walks by someone making wild gyrations and jerking their arms and legs around.

      "Hello are you ok??"

      "Yes, (arm whistles past passer-by's face) I'm fine. (leg swings up and starts a pirouette) I'm just trying to see what the weather will be this week (goes back to jerking arms and legs all over the place looking like a seizure is in progress).

  • Why would anyone think it would be easier to control a device with big unwieldy arms instead of small light dexterous fingers? Also, I have 2 arms and 10 fingers, seems like I could get a lot more done with the fingers.

    • Re:Sounds tiring (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:57AM (#30695368) Journal

      You'll notice they mention arms, hands AND fingers in the full summary.

      Meaning it will also read the gestures of your fingers.

      Making it essentially a non-touch touch screen.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Making it essentially a non-touch touch screen.

        So thus negating the whole point of having a touchscreen in the first place?

        • You won't need to swipe your fingers over smallish touch screens

          Thats what the first sentence seems to implicate.

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          No, certainly not. This is just the next logical progression of mouse/pointer -> touch screen -> gestures above the screen. Too many people here are thinking "Wii," but that's not it: think "iPhone" without having to touch the screen. I'm no Apple fanboy, but I think Apple has already foreseen this by adding the G-force sensor in the iPhone/iPod Touch; I think they just haven't moved on it yet because they're waiting to see what other vendors are coming up with. I predict the next iteration of the

          • No, certainly not...think "iPhone" without having to touch the screen.

            So what's the point of having a touchscreen if you never touch it?

            • by kkwst2 ( 992504 )

              Well if you never touch it, then you wouldn't need it, cutting down on cost. However, I'm betting it couldn't completely replace it, but supplement. It would be nicer, for instance, to scroll without your tubby fingers obstructing the screen. But selecting icons or text would still probably need touch. I remember some videos a few months back of a prototype device in which you controlled it from the back and it projected shadows of your fingers onto the screen. That seemed pretty clever and might work

            • EXACTLY

              • Did you read what I responded to? morgan greywolf was telling me that this didn't negate having a touchscreen but then went on to say that it means you never touch the touchscreen. I was just trying to get clarification on this obvious discrepancy.

            • I get complaints about being overly pedantic all the time, but this is really something. It's like asking "whats the point of having a pointing/clicking touchscreen interface similar to a mouse interface, but without having the mouse?".

              The point is that you have an interface similar to the iphone touchscreen interface (hopefully better in some way), with a different type of hardware. Just as there are situations where a touchscreen is better than a mouse, or vice versa, there also MIGHT be situations whe
              • I get complaints about being overly pedantic all the time, but this is really something. It's like asking "whats the point of having a pointing/clicking touchscreen interface similar to a mouse interface, but without having the mouse?".

                Except that morgan greywolf said both that this wouldn't negate the need for a touchscreen but then went on to talk about having an iPhone where you didn't touch the screen.

          • This is just the next logical progression of mouse/pointer -> touch screen -> gestures above the screen.


            Let me know when I can plug a keyboard in to it.

      • This sounds a lot like the control mechanism for radios on the Heart of Gold, where you wave your fingers in the general direction of the device and hope you get something good.

      • You'll notice they mention arms, hands AND fingers in the full summary.

        More correctly: One finger, one thumb, one hand, keep moving.

        Here's leaked documentation for the device: http://www.scoutsongs.com/lyrics/onefinger.html [scoutsongs.com]

        The next release will include support for legs: http://bussongs.com/songs/hokey_pokey.php [bussongs.com]

      • i already have a device that reads the gestures of my fingers. It's called a keyboard.
  • I thought this was 2010. Where's my mind control? Fail.
  • by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:57AM (#30695376)

    Elaine dancing?

    • Got a point... People who talk on the phone with those earbud headsets already look crazy if you can't see the headset. What are we supposed to think of people waving their arms about for no apparent reason or waggling their fingers at their phones like they're a magician? "Abra-cadabra! Call my mom."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cornwallis ( 1188489 )

        Remember not too many years ago people acting like this on the street were institutionalized. Now it is acceptable behavior in some eyes.

        • Actually it's great. I have always talked to myself when I'm trying to get my thoughts straight, but it can be kind of awkward when I'm out and about. Now all I have to do is put in an earbud and I look like a sane person.

          (As long as nobody listens in to what I'm actually saying: "Ah, I don't need to wrap the main text block in the relatively positioned DIV! I can use a negative margin to break it out of its bounding box, and use a background PNG for the drop shadow...")

  • gesture (Score:5, Funny)

    by CSHARP123 ( 904951 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:59AM (#30695422)
    Showing middle finger to open an app on iPhone (There should be already one) on the bus and suddenly I am arrested for obscene gesture. Stop this nonsense now
  • by ickleberry ( 864871 ) <web@pineapple.vg> on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:59AM (#30695426) Homepage
    I'm willing to bet that using such a device will require more effort to use than say a trackball or mouse.

    Trackball - move your fingers
    Mouse - move your hand
    Touch screen / gesture thing - move your arm
    Motion based gaming thing - move everything

    Sure all these gesture things are great for games and helping fatties lose weight but for ordinary folk who actually need to use it for a large part of their day it will just cause gorilla arm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorilla_arm#Gorilla_Arm [wikipedia.org]
  • by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @12:00PM (#30695438)

    I've got a brand new, incredibly innovative input method for your touchphone! Simply put the phone in your back pocket, and sit on it. Then my revolutionary new AssSwiper (TM) will translate certain butt movements into commands on your phone. Want to skip that song? Just shift your weight back and forth a few times. You'll never use your phone the same way again!

  • And when I commit the crime of the millenium and want to hear news reports about myself I'll be waving my hands frantically around it.....at least until my girlfriend gets sick of it and chucks a pencil through the on/off space.

  • What, pray tell, does that mean? They had to start up at some point. Or do they just mean "we're on the up and up, honest, guvnor, we're not some fly by night outfit, nosiree, we've been around ages"? In which case calling attention to it has a shade of "the lady doth protest too much".

    • Obviously it means they aren't a "startup company", so they have existed for a long enough to not be considered a startup anymore.

      Since the company isn't the one using the term "non-startup" it seems just a tad excessive to look down on them because some random internet poster used a couple of words when talking about them.

      • My bad, I had assumed that a term like "non-startup" could only have dropped in from someone's PR department. For that kind of lingo to spawn by itself in the wild terrifies me.

  • I hope this is integrated into many other applications, because there are several that I would like to flip a certain gesture.

  • Imagine a group of people watching a soccer(football) match at your place:
    [Announcer]: And Barcelona scores a GOOOOAL!
    [You]: WTF? *Gives middle finger*
    [Computer]: Loading favorites. *Goatse.cx appears*
    [Everyone looks at you and starts to leave]
    • I think the problem isn't the failed gesture recognition but rather your peculiar list of favourites.

      Then again, to each his own.

  • Doesn't Nintendo have prior art in the Wiimote?
  • From the article: "...shake the handset..." So we really have gone back to the etch-a-sketch? (FWIW, about 10 years ago, when a friend of mine was promoted [demoted?] to a management position, I bought him a new "management laptop" aka an Etch-a-Sketch.)
  • Great. Now on top of blue tooth making people looking they they talk to themselves. We will have people having seizures. This seems like too much effort all around. I can only imagine my phone calling grandma at 2 am since I left the phone on the table and wanted to get a snack to eat. How about track my eye movements? But even then if I look away it would have problems.
  • You mean you have to use your hands? That's like a baby's toy!
  • Properly placed physical buttons and dials are, by far, the best control scheme for digital cameras. You need that physical feedback in order to know what you're pressing when you're taking photos. I'd rather keep my eyes on the subject instead of having to look down at the camera constantly to see what I'm doing. In cars it's even more important that your eyes stay focus on the road and aren't distracted by touch screens and whatnot.

    Tablet PCs are far more logical. And for desktops, I'm not sure why no one

  • I'm waiting for the "Mime" HID driver. You pretend to open a file and guess what happens to the file? Pretend to crumple up some paper and guess what happens to the file? I leave other gestures to the imagination.

  • touchscreens get absolutely disgusting after a day's use. Looks like I rubbed a pepperoni pizza all over it and this is with clean hands. Humans are oily, disgusting meat sacks. Developing a smudge-phobia where once I had none.

  • fixed that.

    What's this on your shirt...

    Hey, look over there...

    The technology may mean the end to rude people, if it's not impolitic of a person to point that out.
  • I've seen some people furiously shake their iPhone, on purpose. When asked what they're doing, they say that shaking makes the App do a "refresh", only it doesn't always register the command, so they have to do it again. You know what I do to make an app refresh it's content? I hit the refresh button with my finger, which has benefits including, but not limited to: not looking like a fool, not accidentally launching my phone across the room, not requiring an order of magnitude more energy to perform, and
    • by k3vlar ( 979024 )

      I know someone who would always shake their iPhone immediately after rotating between landscape and portrait, just so "it knows I rotated".

      I never had a problem with the accelerometer recognizing I've done something. Except when I use Rotation Inhibitor.

  • Kinda like a theramin. Or one of those games where you maneuver a marble around on a board and try to keep it out of the holes.

    Please, people, the idea is to make better interfaces.

  • by S-4'N3 ( 1232394 )
    *waves hand* These aren't the droids your looking for.
  • If someone walked down the street talking to themselves and waving their arms around, everyone else would give them a wide berth and think they had something wrong with them...

  • or shake the handset

    Works on my Blackberry like a charm, every time I throw it against the wall.

  • The g-sensor is a myth.

  • I never understood why this hasn't been implemented on laptops with integrated webcams. More than three years ago, one guy used the Sudden Movement Sensor in his Apple MacBook to create a SmackBook. He'd slap the MacBook on the keyboard to undo, go back etc. Later he implemented a less violent version using the integrated webcam. Check out this video on YouTube [youtube.com] where he waves his left hand (at 0:27 in the movie) to go to another desktop.

    I love it, but have not seen it implemented yet.

  • So, to de-friend someone on Facebook or Twitter, all you'll have to do is to flip the bird to your cell phone or computer? Sounds like a WIN to me! ;-)
  • Don't move! (Score:5, Funny)

    by oren ( 78897 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:46PM (#30697104)

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

    "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."

    • by BeerCat ( 685972 )


      When I was trying to find that quote to respond to a similar "control it by gesture" comment a few days ago, I couldn't find it. All I kept getting was things like "Mostly Harmless", and "Space is big...."

  • They said one day we'd be so high level we'd communicate our requests in interpretive dance. I figured saying "No way you'll get people to do that" was as safe as "640k will be enough for anyone". Ok, so you got me. Point an laugh. It's for sure what I'll do. I was thinking by now the backlash would have started. Sure, grind away the last few nanometers of the learning curve by shoving usefulness into the dirt and stepping on it. At some point, people will realize learning touch type wasn't such a bad idea
  • Phone as 3d pointing device [youtube.com]
    This one recognize some simple gestures with phone [youtube.com]
    And both could be downloaded for Symbian OS 9.*. It seems I did mistake with choice of platform - Symbian OS is in decline now. But if you still keep old Symbian S60 3rd ed around you can download and try. Those demos use markers, but markerless approach also viable.
  • This will be so much more entertaining to watch than all the sad, tired commuters on the bus I see every day. It will be like weird interpretive hand dances going on all the time, with people occasionally getting frustrated and swinging their fingers faster and faster. Someone will be touching their screen, and the person next to them will develop a smug look on their face, and you know they're thinking "Freakin newbies".
  • I can do that now, it's called a penis.

  • makes me wonder what happens if you move it too close to a G-spot...
  • Ironically, the technology being announced has absolutely nothing to do with waving arms or using hands or even fingers to make gestures.

    The "eyemo" technology enabled for Android uses the camera to detect movement of the phone. Yes, to move your phone you'll probably hold it in your hand and move it around a little, for those who love to nit-pick.

    The arm waving apparently originated wholly in the mind of the original poster.

  • Phones already control software through the accelerometer data- namely switching between portrait and landscape when you turn the phone sideways.

    Besides, I like the idea, but the reason you want it is finger smudging? Wash your hands and stop picking your nose.

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