Gesture research is still a very young discipline that has only been around for about 20 or 30 years. It has its origins in linguistic research, psychology and anthropology, which is why only a few scientists actually refer to themselves as “gesture researchers” today. One of them is Julius Hassemer. The 33-year old became interested in gesture research while doing a Master’s in Intercultural Communication Studies at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). He then went on to do a PhD at the Natural Media Lab at RWTH Aachen University, where he studied gestures and the shapes they take in a motion-capture lab. He has since been part of research projects on emphasis in gesture and language at the University of London and University of Münster. When it comes to technological developments in the field of man-machine interaction gestures are more present than ever today as a means of input. Ludwig Engel spoke to Julius Hassemer about the current status of gesture research and its importance for controlling devices and applications in the home.
Ludwig Engel: Mr. Hassemer, what role do gestures play in everyday applications today?
Julius Hassemer: Naturally as a user you tend to notice the finished products that come with 3D gesture recognition. By 3D I mean that you can give an order via a body motion and without an input interface. Today, you find 3D gesture control in games consoles, in cars, for computers and some cell phones, to name but a few examples. Typically, gesture control is limited to a few gestures, or the user has to learn a special set of gestures for an application, or both. There hasn’t been a real breakthrough here yet: There is not a single application where the use of free gestures has become standard as an input medium. It is different for surface gestures say using two fingers on a display to zoom in and out. Smart phones and tablets would be inconceivable without that function.