Last month, VP Products at Omek, Doron Houminer, presented at the Touch Gesture Motion conference in London. The conference, sponsored by IMS Conferences (a division of IMS Research), brought together a wide range of speakers from different touch and gesture companies to “examine the market potential, technical barriers and new opportunities these technologies will bring.” The topics covered ran the gamut: from highly technical conversations, to different use cases for motion sensors and accelerometers, to how “gesture” can foster collaborative working environments.
For those who weren’t able to attend the conference, read on for a short synopsis of Doron’s presentation here. You can also view the slides from the PowerPoint on Omek’s Slideshare page.
Doron focused his talk on what he has identified as key factors required for successful adoption of gesture over the next period. He starts off by reviewing a graph of the Hype Curve (also known as the “Hype Cycle” – a term coined by Gartner, Inc).
Where are we on the hype curve?
Great question and answers will surely vary based on who you ask. Doron’s view is that we are moving our way out of the “Trough of Disillusionment” and up the incline towards the “Slope of Enlightenment”. Gesture continues to be a hot topic covered often by technology and news correspondents. And we continue to see new tools and products launched that incorporate gesture. However, we have not seen the ubiquitous adoption of gesture into applications and devices as some predicted would happen by now. Why is that? And what will it take to get us to the “Plateau of Productivity”?
At Omek we believe that usability is the driving factor in the adoption of this technology. What do we mean by usability? For end users of gesture-enabled devices it means the creation of compelling, intuitive and natural user experiences. From the construction of devices users interact with to the movements and gestures that will control these devices. Read on for highlights on important elements that must continue to evolve in order to drive growth in this market:
- Form Factor. In order for gesture to be incorporated seamlessly into our lives they will need to be incorporated seamlessly into the devices they will power. The technology is advancing at a rapid pace and we believe that it is just around the corner when depth cameras will be built into TVs and personal computing devices. But for now, a large peripheral is not what a consumer expects or desires.
- Bill of Materials. 3D depth cameras have many advantages over their 2D counterparts, but cost is not one of them. Currently, the bill of materials for 3D depth cameras as compared to 2D alternatives is just too high. Until the price goes down, adoption will be limited.
- (User) Experience. For gesture to reach critical mass, we need to create applications and devices that respond in ways that users intuitively expect them to respond. So that any user of any age can walk up to a screen and know exactly how to control it. This is not a straightforward challenge, as there is no single defined language for gestures. Author and speaker, Don Norman, wrote an excellent article on exactly this topic for the venerable design magazine core77, titled Gesture Wars. I highly suggest you give it a read when you have the time. Omek’s in-house game studio, consisting of design experts, is developing best practices on creating natural user interfaces for gesture. Look to future blog posts on how to create compelling gestures for your games and applications.
- Resolution. At CES 2012 we saw gesture-enabled TVs and a few models have made it to the market. Reaction from users, though, has been mixed. Why? Well, most folks expect 100% accuracy when using their hands to control their TVs. And they expect their TVs to respond to fine-tuned movements, such as using individual fingers to make selections. Current camera technology requires users at farther distances to gesticulate with more exaggerated movements in order to ensure accurate tracking. As cameras are released with higher resolution, it will drive improved user experiences and better usability.
- Power Consumption. This point builds on the idea raised earlier on form factor. As the innovation continues, the power consumption of cameras (along with their size) will go down allowing cameras to be embedded into laptops, tablets and cell phones.
- Content Ecosystem. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Before people will want to purchase a PC with gesture embedded, they will want to know that they can do amazingly cool things with it, such as playing games and running motion-based applications. Content developers, on the other hand, want to build applications for communities with large install bases to ensure that they can see a return on their investment. As more compelling content is developed, more people will continue to see gesture as a must-have feature in their devices.
Where do you think gesture recognition technology is on the hype curve? What factors do you think will enable widespread adoption of gesture? Join in the discussion by sharing your comments below.