Researchers at Newcastle University and Microsoft Research Cambridge have developed a wrist sensor which allows users to remotely control any device with just a wave of a hand.
The device, named 'Digits', maps 3D finger movement and orientation using a minute camera and can recognise specific gestures, which it then translates into commands - for instance, a thumbs up to answer the phone or control a TV.
The biggest advantage of the device is that it does not need to be in the direct range of a sensor, making it completely hands-free so it can be operated at anytime from anywhere, researchers said.
''The Digits sensor doesn't rely on any external infrastructure so it is completely mobile. This means users are not bound to a fixed space. They can interact while moving from room to room or even running down the street," said Newcastle University PhD student David Kim.
Scientists even say that it could allow people to use cash machines and chip and PIN devices more securely by entering the information inside their pockets.
The project is due to be unveiled this week at an international conference on human-computer interaction held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
(opens in new tab)"Ultimately, we would like to reduce Digits to the size of a watch that can be worn all the time.We wanted users to be able to interact spontaneously with their electronic devices using simple gestures without even having to reach for them," said Kim of how the technology could develop in the future.
"Can you imagine how much easier it would be if you could answer your mobile phone while it's still in your pocket or buried at the bottom of your bag?"