Control Your Computer or Car By Waving Your Hands
A year ago, who'd have thunk that America would have gone gaga for the motion-sensitive, hand-gesture-and-remote based controls of the Nintendo Wii. It seemed like an out-there way to maneuver and control your way around the game console's interface and gameplay. And yet, one year later, the Nintendo Wii is the best-selling next-gen console.
So it's no surprise that motion-sensitive, gesture based interfaces were out in full-force in various guises at this year's CEATEC, the Japanese consumer electronics show we attended last week in Tokyo. Here are two examples we found particularly intriguing:
Pioneer 3-D Navigation System: This prototype driving interface features three side-by-side screens – the middle one featuring 3D holographic images, while the left one shows the real-time GPS map of where you are. Say you want to find gas stations in your area: Press a button on the third touchscreen and a big holographic gas symbol pops up in the 3D arena. Then just grab it with your hand and sweep it over the the left hand screen and within seconds the map will be be filled with gas station icons. It's sort of a 3D version of the Microsoft Surface. It's certainly nifty, but as CNET's Michael Kanellos – who was with us on the CEATEC panel last week – noted, this kind of 3D activity could cause an accident. Ultimately, we found the 3D elements to be a bit superfluous and we don't see why the same activity can't just be done with existing touchscreens, but, then again, it's a work in progress.
Toshiba Qosimo hand-motion controls: The powerful new SpursEngine chip enables some pretty cool apps on PC laptops, but one of the more notable was the motion-sensitive, hand-gesture based interface that Toshiba was showing at its booth. Different hand gestures let you start, stop, pause, advance and rewind a video, for example, that's playing on a laptop. We actually had some trouble getting the hang of the controls, but then again, we had some trouble getting the hand of the Wii controls, too. For more pics, check out Engadget's post on the new Toshiba controls.
From what we could tell, the new motion-based interfaces we saw at CEATEC still have a long way to go before they're ready for primetime, which makes us all respect Nintendo's successful implementation of the Wii controller all the more (not to mention Sony's EyeToy from a couple of years ago).
It may seem silly to be flailing your arms about just to watch a video, but we've got high hopes for these latest innovations – what better solution to the "honey, where's the remote?"