Hands-On Technology, Hands Off the Remote


Television may yet shed its reputation for letting bodies atrophy in sluggish stupors. From the movement-sensitive Wii to finger-based iPhone controls to the stylus-operated Nintendo DS, screen technology engages the hands of users as never before.

Now, Australian engineers have taken this a step further and replaced the hand-held remote with the hand itself. Their wave controller box recognizes the gestures, flicks, and shapes of your fingers, and lets you control devices at a distance – as if by magic.

The controller was designed by Quang Nguyen and Dr. Prashan Premaratne of the University of Wollongong, reports David Derbyshire for The Daily Mail. Its built-in camera picks up seven basic hand gestures that take on functions like changing channels and turning on the DVD player. Not limited to the television set, the controller box works with up to eight different devices.

According to Premaratne, the controller answers the problem of having to learn increasingly varied remote commands for increasingly complex gadgets. He expects it to be on sale within three years. And yes, losing hand-held remotes in the couch did inspire the project.

What a funny long-term trend. Devices like remotes were developed to spare bodies the inconvenience of motion – and now we are returning to our bodies, to free us from devices.