Losing the remote is a common cause of frantic searching and slight panic. Luckily, scientists at the Lancaster University in the United Kingdom have invented a solution that might end your anxiety. Their solution is a new form of technology known as spontaneous spatial coupling. This invention allows for you to transform any object into a functioning remote⎯⎯even your head!

Spontaneous spatial coupling is more advanced than anything on the market, but it can be broken down into familiar components. Using a simple webcam, the scientists created a device that responds to user input. The top corner of the screen displays widgets that control the system’s functions. Each target responds to a different function. The current extent of functionality is limited to simple commands controlling volume, channel, and power. While developments are promising, the coupling technology is still being worked on to increase functionality and is not currently on the market.

Essentially, the target synchronizes with an object of your choosing, which includes most parts of your body. Surprisingly, they were even able to configure the technology to let people use their own heads as remotes. The performance was comparable to products currently on the market, even surpassing some existing inventions. For example, the Xbox Kinect is only able to sense hands and often bugs out when it senses the movement of other objects in the camera’s view. The scientists’ semi-artificial intelligence can turn anything into a remote, and accomplishes this with improved precision.

To accomplish this task, the webcam searches its view for rotating movements, which means that calibration is not required. As a result, the technology is not thrown off by other objects in the environment; you can seamlessly control the screen while holding a cup of coffee or laying on the couch. Additionally, specific commands are not required. The days of finding the “+” button on the remote, pointing it at TV, and desperately mashing the button until something responds are over. With this new gesture control technology, you can use the book on your coffee table as a remote to control the volume of your music or use your lamp to signal the playlist to skip to the next song. These are just some of the limitless possibilities of this new innovation.

Another feature of this technology is its ability to connect to two pointers, allowing users to multitask. Instead of using a mouse to work with split screen on a laptop, you could gesture with your arms to control multiple areas on the screen. Disconnecting the “remote” is just as easy⎯⎯all you would have to do is remove the object from the field of view.

If this technology is introduced to the market, it could not only influence home life, but also strongly impact the business world. For instance, when presenting in a meeting room, the presenter could make it so every time they move their hand, the slide elegantly transitions, eliminating the choppiness of stopping every time they have to change a slide. Even medicine could benefit; medical students could be trained by precise virtual surgery simulators. Soon, there can be online courses teaching hands-on skills in addition to academic content. Gesture control technology can not only revolutionize your personal entertainment experience, but also change the world.


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