Look ma no hands! Gesture sensor will offer touch-free gadget control
No doubt at some point in life you've needed to control a device while keeping your hands free or while keeping your dirty or wet hands clear of your expensive tech. Where hopelessness and frustration may previously have abounded, a new gesture-control device called the Bixi – now raising funds on Kickstarter – could help.
The Bixi, created by Bluemint Labs, is one of a number of new gizmos aimed at harnessing the internet of things to wrest the control of a device away from the device itself. The Knocki, for example, lets users assign different actions to different tapping patterns, while the Nuimo lets users do so with taps, twists and – like the Bixi – gestures.
The Bixi itself comprises a 2.6 x 2.3-in (6.6 x 5.8-cm) portable optical sensor, with a plastic casing, a silicone body and scratch-proof Gorilla Glass 4. It can be stuck on, hung from or otherwise attached to things, or moved around freely and left on a table or shelf as required.
Currently, up to eight different gestures can be detected, at a distance of up to 10 in (25 cm) and within a 35-degree field of view. Those include clockwise or counterclockwise motions, air taps and swipes in different directions.
These can be used to control apps like Spotify, Netflix and YouTube, as well as smart devices like Lifx and Philips Hue light-bulbs, the Bose SoundTouch speaker and GoPro video cameras. IFTTT compatibility, meanwhile, allows the Bixi to control additional devices with which it isn't already acquainted.
The actions that each gesture triggers can be set up using an accompanying app for Android and iOS. Bluemint suggests these might include switching lights on and off or changing their colors, controlling music volume and playback, scrolling down through online recipes or even starting a helmet-mounted GoPro while cycling. Indeed, available accessories include a bike mount, a car mount, a desk mount and a wall mount.
The Bixi connects to a user's smartphone via Bluetooth and the Bixi app relays instructions to paired devices or services via Wi-Fi. The device is charged via a micro-usb port and the battery will apparently last for around a month from a single full charge of one to two hours.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Bixi is under way. At the time of writing pledges from US$69 will be rewarded with one of the devices, assuming all goes to plan with the roll-out. Shipping is expected from March next year.
The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the Biki.