There’s currently a lot of talk about the upcoming revolution in computer control. Voice recognition, gestures, touch and different types of input devices are all being trotted out to see if any stick. We’ve had some real close shaves in the past, voice commands being one, but typically after a little interest we all return to the tried and tested mouse/keyboard option.
But with the advent of more integrated webcams, we may be looking at a genuine opportunity to alter the whole landscape, with things like visual gesture recognition. The nPointer freeware program, for instance, is very rudimentary, but it does the job, and with a little training and customization we can see it definitely offering a solid option for those who cannot or will not use a mouse.
The program works by using a webcam to translate hand movements into on-screen cursor movements, which means you can scroll, double click and generally make your way around the PC with nothing more than a flick of the wrist. There are two modes, desktop and frontal control, with the former you point the webcam down and use your hand on the desk, with the latter you wave at the front facing camera at head height.
The software works with USB cameras or integrated models such as on laptops, and is easy to install and set up. We found that it takes some practice to get into the rhythm of moving, scrolling and selecting with a combination of gestures and pauses, but after a while we definitely got better at navigating the screen.
Rather like voice recognition, this kind of tech is definitely still at the ‘only if you must’ level, primarily because it takes time to learn, but for those with RSI or other disabilities this could be a neat solution. It’s Windows only and free for download and distribution.