Of all those interested in bringing gesture technology to automobiles, Google “has the most to gain,” reports Jim Nash in The New York Times (3/16/14). The reason is that Google earns nine of every ten dollars in revenue from advertising. “One of the best ways to increase ad revenue is to make sure ads are seen by people most likely to click on them. That means collecting data on people using Google’s browser, Maps, Gmail and other products” while they are driving.
In other words: “Consumer behavior in cars is all but virgin territory for marketers, and Google is positioned to cash in on it.” To that end, last fall “it bought Flutter, a maker of software that enables people with a webcam to operate Netflix and other apps using signs … In a patent application, the company proposes using gestures not only to operate media systems but windshield wipers and cruise controls as well.” This could, of course, also make “driving safer and more enjoyable,” but the idea does have its critics.
“It’s too much work, too crude and too inaccurate,” says Chris Noessel, an interface designer at Cooper Studio, suggesting limited utility. However, some carmakers, such as Ford, have already introduced gesture technology, such as a rear hatch that opens with a swipe of the foot under the rear bumper. Ford also “has a patent application for in-cabin systems using a video camera to capture seven signs,” and BMW is “experimenting with six gestures” it hopes to introduce “within the next two model years.”