More and more devices and products that integrate gesture control as a method of interaction with the user. While it is something that usually impress in presentations and keynotes, is it a functionality that the user will actually use?
Today we are surrounded by devices that have touch screens, tablets, smartphones, laptops, car navigation panels and even memorable Samsung refrigerator we saw in the past CES. The touch interfaces are nothing new, it is something we have been seeing quite a few years (remember the PDA or Tablet PC that Microsoft introduced in 2001) and have evolved from something that caused quite rejection among users (and nobody wanted to dispense with the physical keyboard your mobile phone) to become the “interface star” and get physical keyboard devices are an oddity or a supplement to touch interfaces.
In addition to this “explosion” of touch interfaces, we are seeing a whole array of new interfaces to interact with all kinds of devices. Concepts such as wearable computing we are somewhat unknown and, for example, Google Glass combines this concept with augmented reality, but if we had to highlight a technology that increasingly begins to charge more weight without much hesitation I would choose for gesture control.
The gesture control is present in more and more devices and today, we can find in the market for Smart TVs (that allow us to play games like Angry Birds or change channels gesturing), on smartphones like the Galaxy S4 in devices to play as Kinect (which has meant a revolution in the entertainment industry and outside of it), in technologies such as Leap Motion that seem willing to change the way we relate to our personal computer or on projects as WiSee Washington University.
I recognize that gesture control is impressive both from the technological point of view and from the perspective of the consumer, in fact, is something that impresses see a keynote or demonstration videos we see in research institutions like MIT and Microsoft Research but gesture control really is something that we will use?.
Perhaps the question may sound like blasphemy but honestly, is a question that I ponder a while, especially since industry heavyweights seem willing to integrate these technologies into their devices (Intel expects to launch its own technology to 2014) and will soon begin to see that we can control PCs, in addition to a keyboard and a mouse or touching the screen if it is touch, gestures made in the air. Maybe for certain applications, such as making a presentation, can be a way of interaction more interesting or very specific applications (gestural control in Smart TV seems a very accurate) but this extension to all kinds of devices seems hasty and a risk to the adoption of this technology.
While the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a good terminal, gesture control seems more a display of Samsung targeting a keynote that a “use case” to pick up a real user need. This same conclusion is the one that comes to mind when you see demonstrations of operating a laptop via gestures performed in the air, a good demonstration but that is far from the real needs of the user.
And you really get to take advantage of the gesture control? I would say yes, but I think it is still early to take advantage in consumer devices; Kinect has been a turning point in the field of electronic entertainment and also the basis of many projects in which gesture control is key to add value to the user, to improve their quality of life or provide better tools.
Put another way, I think the gesture control can be an important gap in the market but I do not extend to any device is the best strategy and risk literally tired and force user adoption becoming a front end rejection.