Driving with your smartphone will be safer.
Microsoft won't have a monopoly on hands-free gaming for long. Pure gesture-based control is coming to the iPad at CES 2011, and everywhere else soon after. Elliptic labs plan to demonstrate their new Gesture User Interface technology on Apple's popular slate. The touch-free software has also been shown on unbranded, prototype devices.
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The GUI tech sets up a touchless zone 35 mm in front and around the iPad using ultrasound technology. The system only requires an app download, no hardware plug-ins of any sort are necessary. Eventually, Elliptic plans to have it work on any touchscreen device. The iPad represents their proof of concept.
The videos of this thing in action are all fairly impressive. The range isn't fantastic though. This would be nice for setting up your iPad on a desk or airplane tray table and being able to control it without moving forward. I really don't see a huge variety of tablet applications though. This tech will be at its best on smartphones plugged into cars.
Plug your handset into the dash, and control it with finger-swipes while still keeping your hands on the wheel. It might take a little setting to get it positioned right (you don't want the movement of the wheel to set it off) but this seems like it would be wildly convenient. I guess you could use a tablet as your car navigation system but, seriously, that's just a disaster waiting to happen.
Elliptic also notes that this will reduce wear-and-tear and greasiness on the screen. Which is true, but I really don't see this technology being at all practical for normal, everyday tablet use. Who wants to hover their hands three inches above the screen and type? How does that make anything easier?
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Seriously guys, you've got some cool tech here. Focus on the real-world uses, not the 1/1000th of your buying audience with severe smudge-related OCD.