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Forget smartphones, PointGrab wants to control your appliances with gestures

forget smartphones pointgrab wants control appliances gestures screen shot 2013 12 20 at 11 48 47 am
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While every every smart home startup under the sun is clamoring to make thermostats and lightbulbs you can control with smartphone apps, PointGrab is already taking things to the next level: gesture control.

Set to make it’s debut at CES 2014, the company’s PointSwitch technology is designed to enable control of home appliances via pointing, swiping, and grabbing in thin air. The technology relies on an array of small sensors equipped with gesture recognition algorithms to be embedded in the devices you wish to control in your home. These sensors are programmed to track the position of your eyes in relation to the position/direction of your fingers, thereby recognizing what device you’re pointing at and triggering various commands. For example, to turn on a lamp you could simply point at it, and then adjust its brightness by moving your finger up or down. PointSwitch can detect your gestures from up to 15 feet away under all light conditions – apparently even in pure darkness.

We’ve yet to see this technology at work in person, but if it works as smoothly as the video below would have us believe, it might very well revolutionize the connected home. Gesture control is the next logical step in home automation, and PointGrab’s technology might help remedy one of the biggest problems with smart home devices – the fact that opening an app and navigating through a bunch of menus on your smartphone is often more cumbersome than getting up and flipping a physical switch.

That being said, in order to gain traction with consumers and overtake smartphone-based control systems, PointSwitch needs to work seamlessly. Devices like Leap Motion and Xbox Kinect have proven that gesture recognition is frustrating and inconvenient when it doesn’t work perfectly. Nobody likes waving their arms in vain without results, so if PointGrab is going to be successful, its sensors need to be extremely accurate and responsive.

We’ll catch up with PointGrab at CES, so be sure to circle back for more details in early January for further details. Until then, check out

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Drew Prindle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
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