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Gesture Technology: Small Step for User Interface, Giant Leap for User Experience

Gesture technology? That’s a thing? Yes, and if you’re anything like me, the capacity of it might astonish you.

Take a minute to think about how you interact with your computer — the role it plays in your work life, your social life, or any part of your personal life, for that matter. There’s a good chance that a substantial portion of your day is spent engaging with some sort of computing device and, until relatively recently, this type of engagement required selecting various types of buttons. Now, however, touch screens are commonplace and the computer mouse or keyboard as we knew them are on their way out. So what’s next? Gesture technology!

Gesture technology refers to a myriad of innovations which convert motion into a recognizable medium for interacting with computer devices. A recent ReadWrite article made the interesting observation that such technology takes advantage of more of our senses and physical capabilities than anything before. This results in an opportunity to ‘consume content’ in an increasingly sophisticated way, “Suddenly, touch, voice, gestures and motion have become the most talked-about ways of interacting with computers,” explains one tech reporter.

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Some of the most intriguing trends within this space include eye tracking technology, led by firms such as Tobii, and motion sensing capabilities developed by Leap Motion and Xbox. As these companies and others begin to fill the market with their intriguing offerings, it is increasingly clear that the potential is far from realized. For instance, the healthcare industry is only just beginning to integrate motion technology in order to alleviate the need for surgeons to touch surfaces during operations — among other things. In addition to medical uses, this technology is utilized in smart home developments and advertising pioneers.

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As exciting as this progress is, it makes us wonder what impact it will have on the amount of time individuals spend interacting with computing devices. The Economist reported statistics which show that, as of last year, almost a third of American’s day is spent working, watching tv or communicating. It seems as though gesture technology will inevitably result in the growth of this proportion — whether or not that would be a negative consequence remains to be seen.

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