by Samuel Sennott
FluidTunes is a free Apple OS X software that uses gesture recognition to control your iTunes library. In other words, by harnessing the power of the iSight camera, the user swipes their hands at the buttons to play the music, stop the music, flip to the next song or flip to the previous song. I first heard about FluidTunes on the fantastic gtd blog Lifehacker. Check out the video I made demonstrating the interface and explaining a few thoughts about how people with the label of special needs could use technology like this.
Okay, so we are not yet in a full on Minority Report experience where Tom Cruise uses complex gestures to control his computer screen that is projected into the air. Nor are we going to see this instantly become a popular access method for individuals with the label of special needs. Yet, it sets our minds ablaze. We have all watched the progression of the eye tracking work move into eye gaze control systems that are really starting to work for individuals with physical disabilities. For nearly four years now, I have been doing a test of the eye gaze systems where I emulate the frequent movements many of my students often display. The systems are now starting to pass that informal test, as of this summer. It seems eye gaze computer control has moved from a potential and a cool thing in the conference exhibit hall to something that works. TobiiAti, PRC, and Dynavox are all committed to its implementation. So what will happen with the concept of gesture recognition? Well, in a way, it already is happening. Just see ASL’s excellent selection of various types of proximity switches. Karen Kangas has championed the concepts behind the benefits of using switches of this type. For these switches, you simply need to move within the right range to activate the electronic switch, which can control your wheelchair, computer, etc…
How terrific is it that the developer, David Frampton, made this application available for free? I am personally having a blast with FluidTunes. Much respect and thanks goes out to him for sharing it and for setting our minds ablaze thinking of the possiblities for individuals with the label of special needs. As we approach the release of Mgestyk, the comercial gesture based control system, we can certainly consider ourselves warned that this is coming to the mainstream. With an estimated cost of roughly the price of a high end webcam, it looks like this technology will be applicable in the assistive technology field. See the following Mgestyk videos.
I for one am going to have fun playing music with this tool and let my mind wander as I do. Yet, I am not going to go gorilla arm with this concept. Although, even at the moment I can imagine practical implementations of gesture based switches that could be created with a usb hub and a couple different webcams. What do you imagine?