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In-air gestures: Touch-free device control

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Scenes where the hero simply waves their hands or fingers in the air to trigger an AI response and operate equipment are fairly common in movies or TV dramas. What we have long thought of as the stuff of science fiction is now increasingly becoming a part of everyday tech. Today we’ll look at in-air gestures, science fiction brought into reality by the development of augmented reality technologies. Augmented reality and in-air gestures: Hand in hand
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In-air gestures are a means of interacting with devices such as computers and smartphones by making hand gestures in the air. They are a type of user interface for information exchange between machine and user (human). While the success of smartphones has made touch interfaces commonplace, in-air gestures are still far from it. That’s because we can already operate our smart devices conveniently and intuitively by touch; we simply don’t have a need for in-air gestures. But the progress of augmented reality (AR) technologies which present virtual images to us in increasingly realistic ways is shedding new light on in-air gestures. In the spotlight: A new user interface
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In-air gesture development was begun in earnest by Google in 2015, under the name “Project Soli”. Project Soli uses radar-based motions sensors to detect small hand movements to control devices. With recent approval from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to develop and deploy a Soli radar sensor, development is expected to really take off. Under Project Soli, users and devices communicate through virtual tools– gestures mimicking everyday actions, such as turning a knob to adjust volume. Hyundai Mobis’ concept autonomous driving vehicle unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January 2019 also featured in-air gesture technology, allowing drivers and passengers to adjust the air conditioner or music volume using finger gestures only. Where in-air gestures currently stand Nevertheless, there are still limitations to in-air gesture technology, as most of the digital elements we encounter today are confined to the screens on our smartphones or tablets. Further, in-air gesture systems have yet to be coupled with sound or haptic systems that provide users with immediate feedback. Clearly, there is still a ways to go until in-air gestures truly enter the mainstream. English startup LITHO has devised a controller worn on the fingers to overcome this limitation. A user wearing this controller on their fingers is able to interact with digital elements touch-free, and receives feedback as each in-air gesture is used. The progress of augmented reality (AR) technology is creating new possibilities for the development of in-air gesture technologies, and also highlighting its necessity. We wait in anticipation for the user interface revolution in-air gestures will bring about in the not-so-distant future.

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