If you thought people looked silly walking around talking to themselves (using Bluetooth earpieces), wait until you see people punching at video screens or simply waving their hands in a seemingly random way. Thanks to new enabling technologies, the growing consumer desire for convenience, and the continued escalation of device usage, the next generation of hands-free is upon us.
What’s driving the demand?
The rising demand for products with no-touch operation surfs on the back of the convenience trend. A global survey of iPhone users conducted in October 2014 by Ericsson found that the bar is still rising when it comes to the definition of what’s convenient. 40% liked the idea of a wearable device that would let them communicate with others directly through thoughts, saving them the burden of speaking or texting, and 48% would rather pay by waving their smartphone at check-out rather than have to fumble for a credit card and physically sign their name.
Hands-free = Germ-Free
Normally, we don’t like to talk about public restrooms, because yuck. But we’re making an exception to make the point that hands-free conveniences – originally leveraged in public restrooms – are becoming increasingly popular in residential settings. The Lysol No-Touch hand soap dispenser was one of the first consumer products to offer hands-free operation in a common household item. Delta now takes this idea a few steps further with their FlushIQ toilet, incorporating a motion sensor with an LED light into the front of the tank – just wave your hand in front of the sensor for a touch-free flush.
Gesture Activated Devices
The wireless handheld remote control device was a great innovation … until we all found ourselves with a growing pile of them, and the hunt for the right remote and the right button just got tiresome. Gesture-activation is the next generation technology replacing handheld controllers. For example, SingleCue is a new device (due for release later this year) that lets you use simple hand gestures, like a wave or making a fist, to control your TV, DVR, stereo, Nest smart thermostat, and more. No more searching for the remote! Similar to the Nintendo Wii video game (but without the handheld controllers), you just need to be in range of the SingleCue sensor bar for it to recognize your motions.
The Next Gen: No Interface
The notion behind the approaching “No Interface” trend is that as real-time device use and digital consumption continues to explode, consumers are expecting a more naturalistic way of interacting with technology. Obviously, the advent of the Apple Watch – bringing more movement and interaction into the device usage – starts to move in this direction. The expectation is that we’ll soon be seeing more of this type interface that incorporate senses beyond touch – allowing consumers to interact more gracefully, to gesture at, and even “feel” notifications from devices.