Want to impress your friends and/or have them accuse you of witchery? Well, if you own an Apple computer, you're in luck, because a new free app for Mac allows you to stop and start your music by just holding up your hand in front of your webcam.
The app is called Flutter, and it's available for download in Alpha mode right now at Flutter.io. As of now, Flutter has one use and one use only: Pausing and playing songs on iTunes and Spotify. Check out a brief demo video below:
Flutter does require that your webcam be turned on in order to work, which is a potential drain on the battery; if you're fidgety, move around a lot, or are an animated talker, you might accidentally trigger Flutter's pause or play function; I did just that while scratching my mustache this morning.
Also, if you are using Flutter on a work computer, your colleagues might ask why you are constantly raising your hand, and think that you're weird.
"Stop raising your hand all the time," they'll say. But you won't hear them, because your music will be playing.
Yes, Flutter is fun, and though it currently has limited functionality, it is at least neat enough for a free download, if only to see how gesture-based control of your technology might work in the near future. Steven Levy at Wired writes that Flutter's founders think the "sky's the limit" for the number of gestural controls that could be integrated in future updates; it's probably worth the space on your computer just to see what the team comes up with next.
Gesture technology is such an exciting field of computing because no one is quite sure what the next generation of operating system is going to look like. There are so many different, innovative ideas out there: You might be familiar, for example, with all of the many different prototypes of touch-less computers that Microsoft's experimental Research Labs have shown off in short videos on YouTube; many of those use technology from the Xbox Kinect, which allows users to control the screen using movements and gestures. We've previously covered a company called MicroVision, which can turn any computer or smartphone projection into a surface that can be manipulated without touch, as well as Tobii, which unveiled a version of Windows 8 that you can control using your eyeballs as the mouse. Companies like Samsung showed off gesture-controlled televisions at the Consumer Electronics Show this year and have made these TVs available for sale now; PC or laptop gesture-control, meanwhile, remains a relatively untapped, liquid market.
Flutter wants to have a say that, making its early-version app available for download here (it's free but for the price of your email). With both Microsoft and Apple working on 3D gesture recognition for upcoming devices, Flutter, and its touch-less control of the Mac, just might represent a wave of the future.
Check out some of the coolest Kinect hacks in the slideshow (below).
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