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Google acquires gesture technology start-up

Graeme Parton

A San Francisco-based firm which specialises in human gesture technology has been purchased by  Google.

The equipment developed by Flutter, which was founded in 2010, can detect basic hand movements using a webcam. It can be used to control certain pieces of software, such as Netflix and iTunes.

The deal has sparked plenty of rumours that Google is looking to use the technology to improve the user experience offered by its Nexus range of mobile devices, as well as its Chromebook line of laptops. The Californian company is, however, yet to release a statement on the buy-out.

While the acquisition is a big step forward for the technology, Richard Picking from Glyndwr University said that it’ll be some time before it becomes clear whether it had entered the mainstream. He explained:

“The more interface styles we can develop the better, but whether gesture recognition becomes the norm depends on how well it can be personalised and whether people embrace it.

“It could be particularly useful as a tool for older people, or those with disabilities.”

Initially, Flutter was made possible thanks to funding from Y Combinator, which is a firm specialising in nurturing start-ups. Navneet Dalal, the company’s co-founder, has worked for Google in the past and was happy to announce the news of the deal on his new venture’s website. He said:

“Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our research at Google.

“We’re excited to add their rocket fuel to our journey.”

The technology Flutter works with is already common in the world of games consoles, with Nintendo’s Wii device being the most prominent example. Microsoft followed its Japanese counterpart by releasing the more advanced Kinect system a couple of years later.

More recently, Samsung used it in its flagship mobile device, the Galaxy S4. The Air Gesture feature enables users to browse web pages, control music and take calls by moving their hands.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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