from the August 2010 issue

Gesture control

Most people think of video chat when they think of front-facing cameras on phones like the HTC Evo 4G or the upcoming iPhone 4. But an Israeli tech company has another use in mind: gesture control, such as answering a call simply by waving your hand in front of the lens. Interesting.

EyeSight Technologies has been offering what it calls "touch-free" gesture control for Nokia phones since last year, according to Engadget, and the company has just announced that it's now offering its EyeCan and EyePlay development tools for Android phones, such as the dual camera-packing (and apparently sold-out) Evo 4G.

In an EyeSight demo video, users can be seen swiping through photos, waving up and down to skip music tracks, taking and rejecting incoming calls, scrolling through Web pages, sending text messages, and even hurling virtual throwing stars (for a game), all by waving their hands in front of the phone's front- and rear-facing camera lenses. Interesting concept, although why bother with EyeSight's "touch-free" gesture technology when you can just swipe your phone's touch screen?

Let's not forget that not every mobile phone has a touch-enabled display. Plenty of popular "multimedia"-type phones don't - and remember, the Android OS was designed to work with non-touch screen phones as well as touch screens. EyeSight's gesture technology could be a handy way for those with bargain-priced handsets to swipe their way through Web pages, photo galleries or music play lists without having to fiddle with arcane soft-key menus.

Then again, the EyeSight software "solution" might be handy even on touch screen phones: say, for taking a picture by waving your hand rather than tapping the screen, or taking a call while you're bobbing and weaving down a crowded sidewalk.

So, yes, an interesting concept. But the EyeSight technology won't take off unless it's embraced by app developers and handset makers alike, which remains to be seen.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report August 2010

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