20 things you didn’t know you could do with natural user interfaces

The public sector is well on it's way to being digital-savvy, but here's a look at what lies in future technology for us as people, as consumers and as employees...

1.    Safer heart surgery. Surgeons are using Kinect to access patient records from the operating room to avoid scrubbing in and out during complex procedures.

2.    Assess motor skills. A specialist children’s hospital in Miami has developed interactive avatars to allow patients to become more familiar with technology and to watch and assess important motor skills in a play environment.

3.    Easier browsing for disabled shoppers. One Kinect hack has resulted in a loyal shopping trolley that follows you around.

4.    Turn off your alarm with a wave. Too tired for buttons? Hands covered in pastry for the second batch of pies? You can turn your phone alarm off with just the wave of your hand.

5.    Explore a new car. Enjoy the benefits of a car showroom without any actual cars. Kinect lets you interact with the features of new cars through gesture technology.

6.    Text without looking. An app originally developed for blind users, Flesky recognises the relationship between taps rather then requiring you hit the right point on the screen meaning no more walking into lampposts while replying to that all important email on the go.

7.    Paint a masterpiece. Microsoft Research Labs have developed project Gustav, which is able to accurately imitate brush strokes and pressure through advanced multi-touch technology.

8.    Hold and play with a virtual object. Another wonder-development from Microsoft Research Labs: the HoloDesk. Just watch.

9.    Help stroke patients recover.  See how rehabilitation therapists at Royal Berkshire Hospital are using Kinect to help people recover from stroke and other brain injuries.

10.  Pause music with a gesture. Flutter app just requires you to have a webcam. Pause and skip tracks with a simple hand gesture: no more panicky app switching to find something more appropriate when Jingle Bells comes on in June!

11.  Make a call using your hand. Actually, SixthSense technology allows you to do a lot more than that. Pranav Mistry’s Ted talk will blow you away.

12.  Scrabble around Bing maps. The leap device lets you control your computer with gestures, including zooming in and exploring maps as if they were 3D objects.

13.  Help children with Autism. Therapists at Lakeside Center for Autism are integrating Kinect’s full body play technology into their therapy sessions.

14.  Make art through gesture. Art from a Kinect hack this time, tied in with the Art Machine.

15.  Play with the world’s greatest shadow puppet. Check out the video.

16.  Make a music demo. A Leap hack, which allows Stephane Berscot to alter the pitch of his guitar and play air drums through the magic of movement.

17.  Adjust your wing mirrors. Brilliant. A perfect example of how NUI is all about making life a little more seamless.

18.  Instagram touchscreen wall. A combination of art, interaction and experimentation. A beautiful idea from The Creators Project.

19.  A projector that understands the room it is in. This is some of the most cutting edge technology being developed in Microsoft’s Research Labs at the moment. Computers that can understand the dimensions of their environment lead to computers that can incorporate the physical world into their user interface.

20.  Bring rappers back from the dead. A little unorthodox this one, but last April Dr Dre and Snoop Dog used 3D rendering technology to allow (the deceased) Tupac to perform at the Coachella festival. Perhaps not what Shahram Izadi had in mind as he used the technology in Microsoft’s Research Labs in the development of the HoloDesk, but then isn’t innovation all about the unexpected? Warning: the video contains swearing and may not be suitable for work. So now you definitely want to watch it, right?

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