Via an ordinary webcam, a startup puts simple gestural control in the palm of your hand.
When Navneet Dalal listens to music on his computer, he doesn't want any keyboard taps or mouse-button clicks to interrupt the experience. He'd rather just hold up an open palm to play or pause the tunes.
Dalal is cofounder of Flutter, a startup that offers simple software that lets users control ordinary computer apps with such simple gestures. Flutter emerges as gesture controls are becoming increasingly popular on consumer devices: Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor brought it to the Xbox, and the company now sells a Kinect for Windows setup that encourages users to build applications using the technology. Samsung, meanwhile, has added gesture-control technology to some of its TVs.
Unlike existing gesture-control software that is only available on certain devices or that requires special hardware, Flutter harnesses a regular webcam. Anyone can download the free software, which was released in a public "alpha" testing phase last month (it's currently available just for Macs). Flutter users can control the play and pause functions on iTunes and Spotify by holding up a flat, open palm.