Motion controls are ok when used appropriately, but when complex gestures are harder than a button press, are we taking a step backwards? In our first video we take a look at the future of motion-controlled tech.
The Nintendo Wii was a huge shot in the arm for motion control, with gesture controls now popping up everywhere.
Of course, I can see great benefits in the tech. In public toilets contactless dryers are hygienic – if a little frustrating at times.
HTC handsets switch to silent mode when flipped over – great when all eyes are on you in a busy meeting. And at CES 2011, I used the Casio Tryx camcorder, which takes a picture when you wave at it – a handy feature for taking self portraits.
Motion controls done badly
But it seems that gesture control is also being used where it’s not necessary. Take the recently announced LG Optimus Black mobile phone – it’ll switch to camera mode when you hold down a button and shake it. But is unlocking the phone and pressing a button really that tricky?
And then there are a number of other applications on Android mobiles and iPhones, such as the ‘shake to delete your tweet’ Twitter app, HootSuite. It’s one of those apps that you’ll download but never use, as it doesn’t make your life any easier.
Take a closer look at the future of motion-controlled tech in our first Which? Convo video.
What’s more, when gesture control’s done badly it can be simply infuriating. This Christmas I caved to my colleagues’ peer pressure and took a look at the Magic Wand TV remote control. The one that was much-hyped after its appearance on Dragons’ Den.
The wand can be programmed to change channels with swishes and other elaborate gestures. But I defy anyone to say it’s better than a standard remote.
Internet TVs could benefit
With the advent of slightly more complex internet-enabled TVs, remote controls will need to change. Panasonic showed off a prototype TV at CES that used whole arm movements to select options. Again, in these instances a button press would still be easier.
However, LG seemed to be on the right track. The company’s magic pointer remote control looked like an easy way to select on screen options, and works much like a familiar mouse cursor on a TV screen.
There was another TV trend at CES – using a small-screened device (like your mobile) to play games on a big screen. Although both LG and Sony Ericsson showed this in action, I wasn’t really convinced that it was any better than a traditional gaming controller. Unlike with a touchscreen phone, at least I can feel where the buttons are under my thumbs.
The gesture control legacy of gaming
Of course, gaming’s continuing to experiment in the world of motion controls, with Sony launching PlayStation Move and Microsoft bringing Kinect to the Xbox 360. Perhaps the latter shows a glimpse of the future – just like Kinect does away with the physical controller, maybe we’ll interact with our products without the need for buttons at all.
Still, in a world where we seem to be looking for ways to reduce physical activity, perhaps voice or even mind control is where we’ll eventually end up?