Clean Screens: Prototype Enables Touchless iPhone Hand Gesture Controls

Clean Screens: Prototype Enables Touchless iPhone Hand Gesture Controls


While the Bluetooth headset has allowed people to look like they are talking to imaginary friends, a new device will let iPhone users get in on the action and look like they’re gesturing and talking to no one. A team of researchers at the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Germany have designed an interface that allows you to use apps on your iPhone and answer calls by tapping the palm of your hand.

During a study, the researchers found that iPhone owners could accurately determine the position of two-thirds of their apps on their palms without  looking at their device. They were able to recall the position of apps used more frequently with up to 80 percent accuracy. The interface takes advantage of the user’s muscle memory by using a bulky depth camera that tracks finger positions on the palm. The camera is mounted on a tripod, and software determines the actions the gestures would execute on an iPhone, before transmitting the commands to a physical phone via WiFi radio.

The interface would come in handy when you’re doing the dishes and are elbow deep in soapy water. Instead of trying to dry your hands and scrambling to answer the phone, you’d slide a finger across your palm, and the movements would be interpreted by an “imaginary phone” system that would relay the request to your actual phone.

Lack of visual feedback limits the imaginary phone, but it isn’t intended to completely replace your iPhone, just to make certain interactions more convenient. The researchers hope to eventually develop a smaller, wearable depth camera, but you’ll still need a special camera to follow you around just so you don’t have to take your iPhone out of your pocket.

What do you think? A useless discovery, or ideal for those situations when it’s inconvenient to directly answer your phone? Would you use it?