Today, the way to interact with a mobile phone is by tapping its keypad or screen with your fingers. But researchers are exploring ways to use mobile devices that would be far less limited. Researchers are developing a prototype interface for mobile phones that requires no touch screen, keyboard, or any other physical input device. A small video recorder and microprocessor attached to a person's clothing can capture and analyze their hand gestures, sending an outline of each gesture to a computer display. The idea is that a person could use an ‘imaginary interface’ to augment a phone conversation by tracing shapes with their fingers in the air.
Researchers have built a prototype device in which the camera is about the size of a large broach, but they predict that within a few years, components will have shrunk, allowing for a much smaller system. The idea of interacting with computers through hand gestures is nothing new. Sony already sells EyeToy, a video camera and software that capture gestures for its PlayStation game consoles; Microsoft has developed a more sophisticated gesture-sensing system, called Project Natal, for the Xbox 360 games console. And a gesture-based research project called SixthSense, developed by researchers at MIT uses a wearable camera to record a person's gestures and a small projector to create an ad-hoc display on any surface.