Gesture Tech


09 November 2013

Interacting with technology with a wave of a hand is both natural and intuitive – and it’s only now emerging just how many potential applications gesture tech has.

It is already being used in operating theatres, thanks to the Leap Motion deviceusing software from TedCas.

Surgeons often need to consult X-rays or MRI scans during a procedure, but because an operating room is a sterile environment, the surgeon either has to ask his assistant to hold and manipulate the imagery, or do it themselves and scrub up again – a process that can take 10 minutes.

Not great, when time is of the essence.

Gesture Tech
Dr Jonny Walker can navigate his control panel in a sterile environment

Dr Jonny Walker, interventional radiologist at the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin, says: “What the technology allows us to do now is while I’m scrubbed, while I’m sterile, I can take complete control of the control panel myself purely through the use of gestures.

“That is incredibly empowering for the surgeon. It allows me to be more accurate, faster, safer and more productive during the operation itself – not only from a clinical point of view, but from an operational point of view.”

The medical profession is not noted for being chock-full of early adopters – new techniques or equipment can take decades to enter common practice.

Not surprising, given that people’s lives might be at stake.

But because today’s surgeons have grown up with computer games and regularly use advanced interfaces, Leap Motion doesn’t feel out of place in the operating room.

Simon Karger, of Cambridge Consultants, who analyses consumer technologies evolving to the operating room, thinks gesture control might soon be commonplace.

Leap Motion
Gesture computer games are already available

“Things are changing,” he says. “We’re seeing surgeons who are using  in some ways very basic technology in the operating room (OR).

“Then they walk out and they pick up their smartphone, their tablet, and their kids are playing on gesture-controlled devices.

“So we’re seeing a lot of pull from the industry to get some of these technologies into the OR.”

Not that gesture control has abandoned the world of consumer electronics – far from it. In fact, it will soon be easier to list the tech that doesn’t contain it, than that which does.

Founded in 2005, eyeSight is a company aiming to revolutionise the way we interact with our digital devices.

Its software is now found in tech from companies as diverse as Lenovo, Hisense, Nvidia and ARM, allowing precise control of PCs, laptops, tablets, white goods and even smartphones.

EyeSight CEO Gideon Schmuel argues that within a handful of years, gesture control will be expected, rather than desired, in our devices.

“There’s about two-and-a-half billion devices which are camera-enabled being launched to the market every year.

“Forecasts suggest that will go up to about three billion devices. There’s really no reason why these devices will not leverage the cameras, the sensors, to bring this kind of interaction.

“We truly believe we will see it everywhere.”


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