The days of navigating around our PCs with a mouse or a trackpad might soon be over, if some people have their way. That’s because there are startups are building tools and applications around the idea of gesture control, in which you can control what’s happening on your computing devices without even touching them.
3Gear Systems is one of the startups pursuing this vision, and it’s soon coming to market with a tiny, camera-controlled device that can track your hands’ movements and control our PC based on what they’re doing. And it’s raised $1.9 million in funding from investors that include K9 Ventures, Intel Capital, and CrunchFund to push that vision forward.
“What we’re doing at 3Gear is understanding what your hands and fingers are doing. We’re trying to build gesture recognition that actually works,” 3Gear co-founder and CEO Robert Wang said in a video demo of the device.
3Gear is positioning this as a new way of interacting with your computer. Without using a mouse, you can use hand gestures to select items on the screen, zoom in or zoom out, click on links, navigate forward or back through different screens, scroll up or down on a piece of content, and lots of other things.
The technology has another advantage over the traditional mouse: Since it recognizes all of your fingers, it can be used for a much wider range of gestures than just point-and-click. Once you’ve calibrated your hand with the system, which only takes a second, you can use multiple fingers or hands to control what’s happening on the screen.
3Gear has been working on a system and form factor that will work for consumers, and has narrowed the technology down into a tiny device that can be mounted on the front of your laptop or desktop and plugs into your USB port.
Using a specialized camera, the device recognizes the shape and space between users’ fingers to determine what gestures they are performing. The software runs on the PC itself as a sort of overlay on top of the operating system to enable control of the computer.
3Gear isn’t ready to release a price for what the system would cost, but to gain mass consumer adoption, it’s likely to run below $99.
Of course, it’s not the only startup aiming to bring gesture control to the masses — there’s also Leap Motion, which already has a developer’s kit and units out in the market. It’s also raised nearly $45 million in funding, but saw layoffs earlier this year after missing its forecast.
With 3Gear’s funding, it plans to expand its team of three and begin preparing to make its gesture control units available to regular users. As someone who’s played around with it a bit, I can’t wait until I can buy one of my own.