While remote control unit manufacturers continuously crammed more and more functionality into a single hand-held apparatus, this functionality was unusable to the average user. It was as if the market need threshold was dramatically overshot by remote control technolog... In essence, because interaction with complex remote control functions is unnatural for most users, a usability gap resulted, leaving a vacant space for a new technology that could provide users with a more natural approach to control functionality.
A hands-free, gesture-based control paradigm is the most-suitable natural interaction method. In recent years, this method has reached a consumer market price-performance point, where the user acquisition accuracy, resolution, robustness to ambient light, processing speed and cost have all passed the mass market threshold.
Low-cost, hands-free, gesture-based control is enabled via a three-dimensional view of the living room scene. While traditionally such a 3D view has been computationally expensive and therefore prohibitive to the consumer market, PrimeSense is now offering a consumer mass-market depth sensor that can provide hands-free control utilizing a computationally thin host.
Here's a quick look at a gesture-controlled menu selection prototype:
Douglas Adams wrote about the idea of gesture-controlled systems more than thirty years ago in his 1979 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While he was att it, Adams also illustrated some potential problems with such a system:
The machine was rather difficult to operate. 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.