How Gesture Controls Could Change The Way We Compute

There's something that feels inherently elegant about gesture control. It feels organic, in a sense; the notion that we're controlling a piece of technology with our bodies alone. Perhaps it's the thought that we're connecting with our gadgets on a level that was previously impossible, utilizing them almost as though they were simply an extension of our own body. 

That we've such a fascination with both voice and gesture control isn't terribly surprising. We're on a mission to transform ourselves into androids, of a sort; creating technology that's easier and easier to use and feels less like hardware than it does a part of our own body. In that sense, peripherals like the Leap Motion Controller and Microsoft Kinect are the ultimate expression of this drive.

Naturally, they're going to bring with them considerable change, as new technology so often does. 

The first - and perhaps, most obvious- way things will change is that things are going to "feel" different. I'm not just talking about the difference in control scheme, either. What I'm referring to here is the fact that, in order to allow users to grow comfortable with this entirely new paradigm of interactions, the sound and animation associated with input - the clicks, beeps, swishes and miscellaneous other bells and whistles - have been toned down. 

That isn't the only way the experience of using a computer will change, either.  As voice and motion controls become more and more advanced, the very concept of using a mouse or keyboard might begin to feel archaic. Interfaces would begin to evolve towards a simpler, more visceral feel. Furthermore, the advent of full gesture control is likely also to be marked by the true birth of virtual reality. That last one might actually come sooner than you'd think - we're already pretty much there.

I doubt we're going to see gesture controls replace more traditional input methods altogether, though(at least in the short term). I don't think that's what they're currently meant for, anyway. Rather than seeing this new technology as a replacement for what we've already got, I view them an augmentation. Rather than stepping in and taking the place of the mouse and keyboard, they'll simply shove them aside a little; taking over tasks for which they're better suited. Users might navigate the Internet with voice and gesture controls, then make posts on social media sites using their mouse and keyboard. 

After all, I doubt anyone particularly relishes the thought of using voice controls for word processing, and physical gestures can only go so far when engaging in an activity such as graphic design. From where I stand, we've got at least another decade or so (possibly more) in which the mouse and keyboard remain wholly relevant - if they ever fade from use at all. 

We drift more and more into the realm of science fiction with each passing day. We're well on our way to perfecting voice and gesture control, and from there, the sky's the limit. It's undeniable that this technology is going to affect a fundamental change in the way we compute - the only question is how long it'll take this change to occur. 



Sep 1, 2013
by Anonymous

Great article, really

Great article, really interesting and just shows how far there is to go in this industry, yet a lot of startups are moving too fast. This also ties in with a book I just read about using shorthand as a form of gesture control where you control things by writing with shorthand gestures (its called Shortpen Shorthand.)