US researchers have developed a computer interface that could spell the end of the traditional mouse and keyboard.
The iGesture device converts hand gestures into commands that can be interpreted by a computer. It does not need special software, and uses touch pads built into non-mechanical keyboards.
The touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. Two human hands provide 10 points of contact and thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something to the computer.
For example, rotating the hand as if opening a jar would open a file, and expanding or contracting the hand would zoom in or out.
Developed by John Elias and Wayne Westerman, both professors of electrical and computer engineering at Delaware University, the system has advantages over conventional input devices.
The developers claim that it can greatly reduce problems such as repetitive strain injuries attributed to traditional computer work.
"This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands," said Professor Elias in a statement.
"This is, after all, one of the ways in which humans interact. I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers."
He suggested that the computer password could eventually become a hand gesture known only to the user.
The devices are already being installed on computers at Delaware University, and are being marketed through a company called FingerWorks.
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