NEWS

Why Gesture Control May Beat Voice Control in Home Automation

May 9, 2017

If you thought voice control was the only magic trick in automation, then you probably haven’t heard of gesture control. “Gesture” here means moving your hand fast or slowly or just changing the shape of your hand. To be honest, gesture control would turn you into a watered down, but still cool, version of Tony Stark.

Imagine walking into your house with a cool, steely glance and then suddenly waving your hands, which then turns on the lights and starts the music. With that in mind, it is not hard to imagine why gesture control may beat voice control in home automation.

Identity Recognition

One way gesture control beats voice control is by utilizing voice and face recognition to differentiate between people. Differentiating is important because it prevents unauthorized people from controlling your home automation system using gestures.

For example, an intruder cannot use gestures to control your home if the system does not recognize him. Microsoft’s Kinect hand gestures for their Xbox console is a source of inspiration for any gesture control developer looking into utilizing voice and face recognition.

The Kinect system works by identifying an individual through voice and facial recognition before allowing them to sign-in to their Xbox accounts. It does this using a depth camera that sees in 3D to create a skeleton image of a person and a motion sensor to detect their movements. The speech recognition software in Kinect allows the system to understand spoken commands.

Microsoft developed the Kinect technology only for video games, but people still have a use for things like virtual shopping, digital signage, and education. Unfortunately, Microsoft dumped gesture control in 2015 because of “very low usage” and to prioritize those Xbox features customers wanted.

Swiping Through Apps with Gestures

Gesture control can also be beneficial in instances where you cannot touch the screen on your smart device to activate an automation app. PointGrab hand gesture software solution allows you to control your tablets, smart phones, or smart TVs through simple hand gestures. It uses a 2D integrated camera that is available on smart devices to track hand movements from close range and up to 5m. So, if you have dirty hands, you don’t have to touch the screens of your smart devices.

There are also existing gesture control systems that work with home automation devices. For example, Onecue by Eyesight is an electronic eye designed to let you control electronics and appliances in your home by solely making hand gestures and arm movements. It can also work with home automation devices like Nest Thermostats and Philips Hue light bulbs. You can mount the device on a flat-screen TV or place it on a freestanding cabinet or shelf.

Hayo, another system that employs gesture control, mostly relies on augmented reality to place virtual buttons in various locations in your home. Then there is Maxus Tech’s Welle, which uses embedded sonar to detect hand movement or gestures to control smart devices.

Gesture Control Complications

Although, the Kinect system, Onecue, and PointGrab do have some weaknesses. For instance, the Kinect system cannot recognize the gestures in a dark environment. The user also has to stand straight for the machine to recognize him. Using infrared cameras that can see people’s actions in the dark easily solves this problem. PointGrab and Onecue also limit the pose and the location of the user, and you have to stare at the devices for them to work.

One adaptable solution would be Ring, which was a popular Kickstarter project in 2014. It was a literal chunky ring worn on a finger and could allow users to control smart devices using gestures. It featured sensors and electronics to give it the ability to control devices and render input. Gesture control developers could use the same principle of the Ring by placing intelligent motion sensors in various corners of a room or rooms in a home.

Despite the numerous possibilities for gesture control, we are yet to see automation systems that rely solely on or even mostly on gesture control. Most other gesture-controlled systems out there are Arduino-based DIY in nature, which means they are less likely to become mainstream. So far, voice control still retains its kingly status. For more information about home automation, please visit our website today.

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