Gesture controlled projectors. Will they catch on?

Written by: Richard Maharaj, Managing Partner/Co-Founder, All Things Media

Imagine a TV, computer monitor, and smart board all rolled into one device that can be controlled via hand gestures and display on almost any surface.  It almost sounds too good to be true, but it’s a real thing.  Companies have been scrambling for years to figure out what to do with gesture control and projection technology.  It’s definitely cool, but is there a practical use for the general public?

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Electronics giant Sony plans to announce the release of their very own gesture controlled projector.  What we know: The device can project images and videos on almost any surface.  Using infrared light sensors, users will have the ability to interact with these projections as they would a touchscreen monitor or tablet.

Does this mean that big clunky monitors and wall-mounted TVs will soon become a thing of the past?  Doubtful in the near future, but with this relatively new tech, interactive gaming and corporate presentations can take on a whole new life…as long as the sun isn’t shining and your overhead lights aren’t too bright.

The team at ATM has been exploring this technology for some time and have used gesture control and projection to develop engaging retail experiences for companies like Disney, Hasbro and Lego to name a few.  Companies like LEAP, Microsoft and BMW have been using this technology for years, but for the most part there’s been limited real-world application (outside of gaming).

Some see gesture control technology as a passing phase, but I think there are practical uses for it in the office, at retail locations, in the home, and specifically within the automotive industry.  For example, using gesture control to operate your car’s phone, radio, and other functions will help drivers stay focused on the task of driving, and help avoid unnecessary accidents caused by fidgeting for controls.  I’ve tested this technology at a BMW driving event last year, and while I felt a bit silly waving my hand around while driving, I can definitely respect the safety benefits and ease of use.

Photo credit: BMW

In my opinion, combining gesture control with projection can only make those popular smart home devices more useful.  Imagine browsing the web or following recipes directly on your cooking surface, or controlling your home’s thermostat and lights with a simple wave of your hand.

Personally, I’m excited about the possibility of turning virtually any surface into a touchscreen and using my hand as the remote.  Whether this is the next big thing or not, I anxiously anticipate the day when I never have to search between the couch cushions for my lost remote.