Google Makes Gesture Control Move With Flutter Purchase

Google bolsters its gesture recognition credentials with Flutter deal

Google has acquired the small San Francisco based startup Flutter, which detects simple hand gestures via a webcam to control apps such as Spotify or iTunes.

There has been no official word yet from the search engine giant itself, nor have any financial details about the deal been revealed.

Gesture Recognition

“When we started three years ago, our dream to build a ubiquitous and power-efficient gesture recognition technology was considered by many as just “a dream”, not a real possibility. Since then, we have strived to build the best machine vision algorithms and a delightful user experience,” said CEO Navneet Dalal on the company website.

Minority Report“Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our research at Google. We share Google’s passion for 10x thinking, and we’re excited to add their rocket fuel to our journey.”

Dalal also said that existing Flutter users will be able to continue to use the app.

The acquisition of Flutter has triggered speculation that Google will look to incorporate gesture recognition technology into forthcoming Chromebook laptops or its Nexus tablets and smartphones.

Of course, gesture recognition tech is already widely used within the gaming sector with consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect system and Nintendo’s Wii making use of the technology. And increasingly the technology is finding its way into some television sets, such as Samung’s latest generation of Smart TVs.

Look Mum, No Hands

And it should be noted that Google is not the only tech giant getting into the gesture recognition space.

In June, Intel acquired Israel-based gesture recognition specialist Omek Interactive for $40 million (£25m). The thinking is that Intel will integrate the gesture recognition technology into its chips. This is what Qualcomm did after it acquired US-based GestureTek back in 2011. It incorporated gesture recognition capabilities into its Snapdragon mobile processors.

Also in 2011, speech recognition software provider Nuance Communications purchased Swype, a maker of gesture input software for Android smartphones, for $102.5 million (£66m).

And in 2012 Elliptic Labs launched touchless gesturing that uses ultrasonic technology to let users scroll, select application commands and perform other functions in Windows 8 by moving their hands in front of the display. That potentially elimantes greasy fingerprints smudgiung users’ screens and monitors. The technology has already been incorporated in the Windows 8 Gesture Suite.

Meanwhile earlier this year, HP announced a partnership with Leap Motion, which develops the Leap Motion Controller – a tiny bar of metal, plastic and rubber, which connects to a PC and, using two cameras and three infrared LEDs, tracks motions of both hands and all ten fingers at 290 frames per second.

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