Controlling TV with a wave of hand

WASHINGTON - Touch screens are so yesterday.Remote controls?So last century. The future is controlling your devices with a simple wave of the hand. A wiggle of the fingers will change television channels or turn the volume up or down. In videogames, your movements will control your onscreen digital avatar. It's called 3D gesture recognition and while it may not be in sores this Christmas, a number of technology companies are promising that it will be by next year.

Softkinetic, a Brussels-based software company, is one of the leaders in the gesture-control field and has teamed up with US semiconductor giant Texas Instruments and others to make this touch-less vision of the future a reality.Besides TI, Softkinetic has forged partnerships with France's Orange Vallee for interactive TV; another Belgian firm, Optrima, a maker of 3D cameras and sensors; and with Connecting Technology, a French home automation company.

On the consumer side you have three markets-television, videogames and personal computers,"Softkinetic chief executive Michel Tombroff told AFP in  a television phone interview.

On the gaming front, using camera in real time to capture motion and then take the representative avatar from that and play it on a screen with others elements in a virtual world is a pretty compelling experience." he said. US software giant Microsoft demonstrated a gesture recognition program called "Project Natal" for its Xbox 360 videogame console in June and has announced plans to launch it next year.

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