Ultra-small PCs that fit on a single chip. Batteries that recharge without cables. TVs that respond to your every gesture. These and other developing technologies will fundamentally change the way you think about and use your computer. PC Advisor looks at the technology of tomorrow.
Mouses are all well and good for navigating a PC desktop, but they're not what we want to use when we're sitting on the sofa watching a DVD on a laptop, or when we're working across the room from an MP3-playing PC. It isn't convenient to find the mouse and click on what we want.
Attempts to replace the venerable mouse, whether with voice recognition or brainwave scanners, have invariably failed. But an alternative is emerging.
What is it?
Compared with the intricacies of voice recognition, gesture recognition is a fairly simple idea that's beginning to make its way into consumer electronics.
The idea is to use a camera (such as a laptop webcam) to watch the user and react to their hand signals. Holding your palm out flat would indicate ‘stop' when playing a movie or a song, for example.
Waving a fist around in the air could double as a pointing system: you would move your fist to the right to move the pointer right, and so on.
When is it coming?
Gesture-recognition systems are creeping on to the market now. Toshiba, a pioneer in this market, has an early version of the technology: the Qosmio G55 laptop, which can recognise gestures to control multimedia playback.
Toshiba is also experimenting with a TV version of the technology, which would watch for hand signals via a small camera that sits on top of the set. Based on our tests, however, the accuracy of these systems still needs a lot of work.
Gesture recognition is a neat way to pause the DVD on your laptop, but it probably remains a way off from being sophisticated enough for broad adoption. Expect to see the technology make some great strides over the next few years, with inroads into mainstream markets by 2012.
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