Gesture control has arrived, but are consumers ready?

Gesture control has arrived
Gesture control has arrived

What brands ought to consider before implementing gesture control functionality. By Ian Brennan, head of development at AnalogFolk London

With recent developments in gesture control and motion based technology, there is now a strong expectation that brands will be experimenting within this exciting new area as a way of increasing engagement with the consumer. But despite the advances, do we really know what to use it for yet?

Smartphones and tablets have lead us into a touchable digital world. Gone are the days of pressing keys and moving a scroll wheel, now we expect instant feedback via touch controls, and air based gestures are the next natural step for this type of interaction.

Companies like Leap Motion are looking to disrupt the human-computer interface market by creating a product which enables us to directly manipulate on-screen items with our hands. The premise is simple: make gestures with your hands and the device translates them into onscreen events and controls.

Before you know it we’ll have an office full of socially awkward people talking into their glasses, swiping their watch screens, and flailing their arms around like a crazed orchestra conductor. It’s the future.

Next steps

HP recently announced a partnership with Leap Motion that will see the device embedded in a range of their laptops. And with Apple recently patenting a touchless control interface, it’s time for brands to start thinking about the next steps in user interactions.

Only a handful of brands have picked up on the potential, perhaps down to the social awkwardness of waving your hands at a piece of technology.

It’s not just Leap Motion making waves in the sector either. Norwegian startup Elliptic Labs have developed an ultrasound chip which uses sound waves to interpret hand movements. Then there’s PrimeSense, the company behind gesture control for Microsoft's Xbox Kinect, which recently demonstrated a shrunk down Kinect sensor working with a Nexus 10 tablet at a Google developers’ conference in May.

The gesture control industry is kicking off, and we’ve all got a great opportunity to be at the helm of innovation.

Brands like Heineken have already been using the technology to build interactive experiences for their consumers. The implementation of Leap Motion gesture controls, along with a wrap around screen, lead to an immersive experience delivering their brand values in a fun way.

But only a handful of brands have picked up on the potential, and perhaps this is down to the social awkwardness of waving your hands at a piece of technology. Once those social barriers have been broken down, we’re all in for a treat.

Development work

There’s no doubting that gesture controls have the potential to improve the existing interface experience. To be at the forefront of this innovative field brands should look to initiate research and development work streams now.

We’ve already started to play around with Leap Motion at AnalogFolk, and our developers have been defining intuitive interactions that allow users to control the agency website in a fun and easy way. It’s only the start of our journey into creating usable applications with Leap Motion, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the industry can come up with.

With this type of user interaction in its infancy there is a huge opportunity for brands to define the future of gesture controls. The marketplace is ready and waiting for that one killer application to take us to the next level of human - interface interaction. One thing Is for certain, gestures are here to stay and you’d be foolish to ignore them.

Here are three things to think about before implementing gesture control:

1. Is your audience ready for gesture control?

It’s worth thinking about how your audience will react if you do implement some form of gesture control within your product. Will it be used as a marketing tool, or will it form the base of your core user experience?

2. How do you define gestures?

With the industry still in its infancy, there are no set-in-stone, pre-defined ways of doing things. We all expect a mouse wheel to scroll a page up and down, but how does that translate to gestures?

3. What happens without gestures?

Not everyone is going to have access to a device that supports gesture controls. Do you have a fallback plan? 

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