Don’t be alarmed at the man waving his arms at his television: he’s not crazy, he’s just changing the channel. Thanks largely to miniature cameras and sensors embedded in just about anything, gesture technology is becoming a reality that’s freeing us from keyboards, mice, and even those now-familiar taps and swipes.
Here are five products that benefit from the boom in gesture control.
LG Smart TV
Now “lifting a finger” to change the channel on the TV means exactly that. The highlight of LG’s Smart TV line is remote-free operation controlled by your very own appendages. To change the channel, just use a finger to draw the numbers in the air. A high-definition camera built into the screen can distinguish the numerals and instruct the TV to respond accordingly. Simple hand movements can also be used to navigate the TV’s apps and interface. And, should your arms completely fail you, voice control is also available. The cost:
Starts at US$450 (varies by screen size) lg.com
HP Envy 17 Leap Motion SE
As touchscreens make their way to the laptop world, now you can get your hands on—er, off —touchless ones. HP has embedded a new 3-D control system called Leap Motion directly into the palm rest of this laptop, so you can navigate and control your system by simply waving a hand over the keyboard. Leap Motion (also available as a standalone add-on device for any computer) has its own app store—which, for now, is heavily loaded with games. The cost:
Starts at US$1,050 hp.com
Samsung Galaxy S4
You can swipe the screen of the Galaxy S4 smartphone until your fingers go numb, or you can take things airborne. The phone uses the front-facing camera to activate “Air Gesture” mode, letting users interact with the handset without touching the screen (perfect when you’re trying to read the news while snacking during happy hour). Scroll through web pages or e-mails by moving your hand up or down over the sensor, or answer an incoming phone call by waving your palm over the screen. The cost:
US$200 with contract samsung.com
Microsoft Xbox One
The Xbox 360’s Kinect add-on has been re-engineered and added to the new Xbox One as a standard feature. An infrared camera now lets the gaming console see in the dark and track movements as slight and subtle as the clench of a fist. This sensitivity helps the Xbox One with new features, such as recognizing gamers so it can sign them in to the system when they walk into the room. The system also has integrated microphones, so if your arms stop working, you can always yell at your game instead. The cost:
The makers of the It Thermostat have expanded their horizons into another home essential: the smoke detector. Nest Protect doesn’t just look good on your ceiling while alerting you when your home is on fire or filling with deadly carbon monoxide. It also solves the smoke detector’s most common problem: they’re next-to-impossible to turn off. An integrated motion sensor knows when you’re desperately trying to shut the thing off after your kitchen fills with smoke from overcooked bacon. Just wave your arm at the device, and the spoken voice alarm (not a blaring Klaxon) will pipe down. The cost: