December 23, 2010 at 11:47 am

CES 2011: Touchless iPad Interface to Appear at CES

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In much the same way that a cellphone earpiece can make an otherwise average pedestrian appear to be a crazed soliloquist, new technology to be demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January promises to convince people to flail their arms around in seemingly random motions with the help of the iPad and Elliptical Labs’ Touchless Gesture User Interface.

This docking station for the iPad emits ultrasound and then listens to its reflections, much like a bat. Its controls can be mapped to music and other apps, so that you can turn up the volume or switch to a new station without touching the iPad, flip pages on Epicurious’ iPhone app while trying to stop your kitchen from bursting aflame, and so on:

“The idea is that you use touchless gestures to operate primary functions of a docked tablet in situations like when you have wet or greasy hands in the kitchen,” Elliptical Labs CEO Stian Aldrin told Mobile Magazine. “In general tablets are made for being handheld. When it is docked you are often walking or standing further away, and then using a finger on the screen involves a change of modality. Rather than bending down, leaning forward or picking it up you can use larger movements a little bit further away to do things like volume up or next song without changing modality.”

This new motion controller for the iPad may have been improved since its unveiling at the IFA show in Berlin in September, and looks likely to make a splash with forward-thinking app developers expecting to move one step further away from the keyboard and mouse, past the touchscreen, to three-dimensional gestures.

Elliptical envisions these docking stations working with other tablets. Another natural place for this technology would be in the car, so that you don’t have to hunt for hardware controls while piloting your sadly-still-human-controlled, non-jetpack vehicle.

(via Mobile Magazine)