The Verge has a good Q&A up with the Chief Creative Officer for the industrial design firm Frog, and one of the questions he fields is about gesture-based controls of big screens, as in the film Minority Report.
Lots and lots of people talk about that being the future of computing controls, while lots of other people (me included) think it’s interesting but mostly an unworkable gimmick.
The Frog guy, Mark Rolston, agrees …
(sigh…) I hate that model. On one hand, it’s been great for a user interface to have become so recognizable by the general public. But really, it’s a terrible idea. Few people are going to stand up and wave their arms around like that to operate a computer. In the movie, Tom Cruise is doing a lot of object selection, sorting, and editing. Those things work best with small hand movements. We require more motor control for that kind of work. But there is an emerging field of computing that does take advantage of more ‘phatic’ interactions. Doing simple things like turning lights on, opening doors, and signaling yes/no can be done very effective(ly) at the kind of full body level that we saw in Minority Report.
Rolston says where there is opportunity for something very different, that is actually workable, is voice control. The company has been playing in the lab with controls that work with simple big gestures and with voice. You can watch a video demo here …
Agreed. Totally. Though I do see some application for basic gestures – big or fine using Leap Motion – in circumstances where a touch overlay is impractical (through window glass) or simply the wrong approach.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.