Prototyping Canesta's gesture-based television controls

Design firm Kicker Studio did this case study for 3D sensor manufacturer Canesta, experimenting with ways to control home entertainment systems with motion-sensing cameras and gestures. Seems a perfectly reasonable way to do it, although I would prefer a much more subtle amount of motion.

When prototyping the system, Kicker made this peculiar discovery (emphasis mine):

ith a set of research subjects, we did scenario-based prototyping, with paper and simulated screens. After watching people attempt our gestural set, we quickly added to our list of principles No emphatic gestures. We found that the more elaborate gestures made some users feel like they were “angry” at their TV. We also eliminated a number of gestures that seemed comfortable in our small room, but when put to the test seemed overly tiring.

Below, foam models that the Kicker studio carved in an attempt to make an aftermarket version of Canesta's cameras, which may be sold as add-ons as well as embedded directly into television.


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  1. Yes it’s futuristic and cool…but am I the only one that isn’t enthralled about having to wave my hands about like a jackass to use my TV, while also gaining absolutely zero new functionality? Sure my remote may get lost every once in a while. But I’d rather lose a remote behind the couch for a day instead of losing my dignity in front of my friends for a lifetime.

    Go go gadget volume!

  2. One of our design principles was to make sure users would be comfortable doing any of these gestures in on a date. It was critical to develop a gesture set that wouldn’t embarrass anyone.

  3. gesture #1: put on my cloak and wizard hat…

    answer to TMAIORANA – heh, so air-humping to change the channel was right out then. I’m picturing a “these are not the droids you are looking for” wave of the hand to flip channels…

  4. any anime fanboy would remember this concept from the mid-eighties as shown in Macross the movie when one of the characters turns off her huge folding flat screen tv with a gesture

  5. I think a key aspect is the placement/location of the device that is detecting the gestures.

    Instead of waving in the air (gorilla arms) — allow the user easier control based on ergonomics of the user at a 8-10 foot distance. Why not have the “gesture interpretation” device incorporated into the furniture (arm rest) or possibly a coffee table.

    I’m a lazy person and ultimately– I think voice commands would make the most sense: on/off, guide, down/up, date/time, record, play/stop/pause, channel #, volume up/down and search:keyword.

    I would also like to get to the point where usage information was available for live broadcast. So much could be done with this info… marketers wet dream.

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