Group shot with a wave

Watch this: Hands free phone gestures from 2 meters away

Back in October, we saw how Elliptic Labs integrated ultrasound hardware and smart software to interact with phones and tablets though gestures. At the time, the company said its technology worked from up to 50 centimeters away. Now, Elliptic Labs has boosted the range: You can wave at your phone from up to 2 meters away to make things happen.

There aren’t many scenarios where you’d be up to six or seven feet from a phone and want to do something with it; after all, you really can’t see the small screen that well. But there is one specific, and highly popular activity that gesture tech can can help with: Photos. Elliptic Labs says its new 2 meter range is great for selfies and group photos.

While the tech is interesting, I’m not sure device makers will be sold on it: Many camera apps have timers to accomplish the same thing for a group shot and some already support gestures.

And that touches upon the other challenge Elliptic Labs faces: It relies on device makers to use the technology, so it has to continue showing how gesture interaction will help sell devices and benefit users.

I can think of another simple use case I’d love to see that could theoretically be done with gestures: Muting the microphone on a phone call. I often take hands-free calls for product briefings and I have the bad habit of walking around the room during the conversation. Sometimes, I need to mute that mic and it would be great if I could do that with a gesture. Elliptic Labs says its solution works within a 180-degree area, so it ought to be possible.