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Summary:

Based on its Kinect hardware for Xbox, Microsoft knows a thing or two about gesture-based interfaces. A report suggests that upcoming Windows Phones could use gestures and sensors to simplify smartphone use without even touching the handset.

windows phone gestures
photo: Microsoft

As talk heats up about the expected 3D head tracking of Amazon’s smartphone, don’t count Microsoft out of the handset gestures game. The company is working on a way to navigate around Windows Phone without touching the screen, using Kinect-like gestures to work with apps and games. A Monday morning report from The Verge suggests that Nokia’s successor to the Lumia 1020 (below), codenamed McLaren, will be the first Windows Phone with these features.Lumia 1020

 

Aside from app interaction with gestures, the phone will use sensors to add more smarts to the gesture system, likely called 3D Touch or Real Motion:

“While Microsoft is reaching out to top developers to support the new system with apps and games, 3D Touch will be unique to its own devices and will not be available initially on handsets from Samsung, HTC, and others. Features like answering calls by holding the phone to your ear will be supported, alongside the ability to set the phone down on a table to enable speakerphone, or hang up a call by placing it in a pocket. Phones that support 3D Touch will use a number of hardware sensors to enable devices to mute when they are covered by hand or held to a chest, or to dismiss alerts by waving a hand in front of the screen.”

Sources tell The Verge that the project aims to remove buttons from the phone hardware as well: Grabbing the phone, for example, could wake the device because it realizes it was just picked up. And when the phone is held by its sides in portrait mode, it could automatically lock the orientation in that mode. These are little usability items that could improve the Windows Phone experience in a big way.

If Microsoft does bring a gesture-based interface to Windows Phone, using the handset’s front camera or other sensor to see hand movements, it won’t be the first. Samsung’s Galaxy S 4 debuted in 2013 with a few gestures of its own, allowing you to swipe through albums of images or scroll web pages without actually touching the phone.

First isn’t always best, though. Microsoft has an opportunity to improve upon the gesture-based interfaces already available in the market. That, along with the many improvements in Windows Phone 8.1, could accelerate sales of the phones as Microsoft continues to peck away at the competition.

  1. I have been using Android for a while but did a test on a WP8 device, the cheap 520. Even though it was a super cheap device, I really liked the OS so much, I used the device past my 1 week test and extended to a month. 8.1 looks to be even better.

    I found no apps that I use on my Android device that I could not find a replacement for or even just use the web app for (WP8 has a great browser).

    Nokia makes some great phones and with the added tech from MS, we should start seeing some very innovative devices soon.

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  2. Dont remove buttons i hate automation

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  3. Samsungs S4 used the camera and the light sensor for gestures, Microsoft version uses a new type of screen which is supposed to be MUCH more accurate. Check it out here

    http://www.wpcentral.com/microsoft-shows-how-3d-sensing-will-work-smartphones

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