The sci-fi promise of gesture-controlled computing is slowly becoming a reality, even on the $35 Raspberry Pi.
The Flick add-on for the Pi may not come with the holographic display from the movie Minority Report, but it does offer the chance to play at being Tom Cruise and control a computer by swiping your hand in mid-air.
However, the $25 Flick offers a gesture-control system different to that seen in the Minority Report or enabled by the Xbox Kinect, where users move their hands in a wide space in front of them. Instead, the Flick is a small pad that detects gestures made above its surface, able to detect swipes and finger movements at a distance of 15cm.
While the Flick seems comfortable tracking general shapes traced by fingers, such as as a circular motion to rotate something on screen, its ability to precisely track finger movements is less clear. In a demo of the Flick, drawing a random pattern drawn in the air only seems to produce an approximation on an LCD display. However, this demo of a board using the same sensor shows relatively precise movement tracking, so the crude reproduction in the first demo may just be a limitation of the simple LCD matrix display. The Flick Zero's makers says the board can track 200 positions per second and has a spatial resolution of up to 150 dpi.
The Flick's makers suggest it could be built into many types of Pi-based gadgets, for example to add gesture controls to TVs or music systems. It can be mounted behind wood, acrylic and other non-conductive materials, although doing so will reduce the sensor range.
Getting started with the Flick is made easier by the availability of various software libraries, including a demo for testing gestures.
The Flick is based on the Microchip Technology MGC3130 gesture sensor, which uses near-field sensing to detect disturbances in electric fields as hands pass above its surface.
The large Flick board costs $38.95 (£29.99), and the Flick is also available as a Pi HAT for the Raspberry Pi Model B ($25.89) £19.99 and for the Pi Zero for $25.50 (£19.99). It is available now via Pi Supply, and will be available via SeeedStudio from 29th September. It connects to the Pi via its I2C (Inter Integrated Circuit) pins and can be used with other single-board computers with the necessary pins, including certain BeagleBone and Arduino boards.
Read more about the Raspberry Pi
- Raspberry Pi: The smart person's guide
- GCHQ builds monster Raspberry Pi cloud with OctaPi formation (ZDNet)
- How to give your Raspberry Pi 'state-of-the art computer vision' using Intel's Neural Compute Stick
- Raspberry Pi 3: The inside story from the new $35 computer's creator
- Raspberry Pi in 2017: New boards, new OSes and more
- Choosing a Raspberry Pi OS? Here's the definitive list
- Raspberry Pi rival delivers a 4K Android computer for just $25
- Raspberry Pi and Docker: Tiny $35 computer gets major new release of HypriotOS (ZDNet)
- Turn any hard drive into networked storage with Raspberry Pi (CNET)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.