Gesture control is a buzzword on the tips of everyone’s tongues these days, and after Samsung debuted a number of touch-free control features with the Galaxy S4, it’s natural that other OEMs are looking to integrated the same kind of tech into their devices. That tendency has played out well for Cube26, a Santa Clara-based startup we caught up with at CES back in January when they were shopping around their vision tech and gesture control.
Cube26 co-founders Saurav Kumar and Aakash Jain have found some interested buyers, starting with six of India’s leading OEMs, including number two smartphone provider Micromax, Intex, Celkon, Zen, iBerry and Lemon Mobile. All told, Cube26 says this represents 25 percent of the Indian smartphone market, which according to recent data, is one of the fastest growing on the planet.
Kumar explained in an email to TechCrunch that OEMs around the world are looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd, which is what motivated Samsung to come up with its own gesture features to begin with. Cube26 offers a way to do this via licensed software, rather than having to develop it in-house, giving any OEM access to tech perceived as at the cutting edge of mobile products. And unlike Samsung’s version, it doesn’t require specialized hardware; the Galaxy S4 contains two IR cameras to make Air Gesture features work, whereas Cube26’s tech is designed to be used with standard smartphone cameras, as well as other connected devices like smart TVs.
Cube26 offers up a number of gesture features including “Look away to Pause,” “Auto-call” (call starts when phone moved to ear), and “Touch-less Swipe to answer,” which is demoed in the embedded video. All of these need only a front-facing camera to work, and if you’re curious about how the look away feature performs, you can download the startup’s dedicated video player for iOS, a tech demo which Cube26 says has received over 150,000 downloads since its launch in April.
To reflect its increased efforts to sell to mobile companies, Cube26 has also brought on Kunal Ahooja, former CEO of Indian mobile OEM S Mobility as an advisor. Smartphones packing its tech have already rolled out from Micromax (the Canvas 4) and iBerry (the Auxus Nuclea N1), and devices from the remaining new partners will follow shortly, per Kumar.
Others including Israeli startup Umoove and Leap Motion are attempting to capitalize on the newfound interest in gesture tech via partnerships with OEMs, so expect a lot of activity from this space as the land grab continues. Whether or not anyone will actually use hand-waving to control their smartphones long-term, instead of just as a product differentiation gimmick, remains far more uncertain, however.