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Published:July 17th, 2007 12:57 EST
Can you wave bye-bye to turn it off?

Can you wave bye-bye to turn it off?

By S Renee Greene

When I was in junior high school, like umpteen years ago, my science teacher said that with impending technology, the day was going to come when man would no longer need bodies—just a hand and a head. We laughed back then. Nowadays, it’s not so funny any more.

In the ever-increasing crunch to come up with the latest superhuman telecommunications gadget, Australian researchers Dr. Prashan Premaratne and Quang Nguyen are in the process of developing a box that lets television viewers change channels, switch on a DVD player, or switch off an irritating presenter with the wave of a hand. The built-in camera on the box can recognize simple hand gestures and work with up to eight different gadgets around the home. Though it appears to resolve the problem of looking for the old handy-dandy remote control that was never equipped with a “clap-on, clap-off" feature, the question now becomes, what happens when lazy viewers get tired of raising their hands?

True enough, the universal remote is a pain in the derriere, but(t) now we have to “train" the box to recognize these hand gestures and master them so the box doesn’t get confused? The software, they say, recognizes simple and deliberate hand gestures, which it then sends via an appropriate signal to a universal remote control that is designed to work with most makes of television, video recorder, DVD player, hi-fi, games consoles, and digital set-top boxes. Dr Premaratne says anyone can learn the gestures within five minutes.

A clenched fist means, "start", an outstretched hand with closed fingers means "power on", a thumbs-up sign means "up" and a sideways victory sign means "channel." The software can distinguish between real commands and unintentional gestures and the software development team is working on making the gadget small enough to be built-in. "With the game consoles, hand gestures can replace button presses and the gaming experience will be truly revolutionized."

I have a question, and I’ll bet that whoever is reading this has already guessed what it is. “Will there be a particular hand gesture that it can read to indicate your complete dislike for the programming?"