Startup Flutter brings Kinect-like gesture controls to your Mac

Startup Flutter brings Kinect-like gesture controls to your Mac

Summary: A start-up company is showing off its solution for bringing some gesture magic to your Mac via your Webcam and its downloadable app.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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A new company supported by start-up incubator Y Combinator is showing off its solution for bringing some gesture magic to your Mac. Flutter will give you a taste of Kinect via your Webcam and its downloadable app.

You can currently sign up to be alerted when Flutter is publicly available on the company's website. Instead of requiring separate hardware, a la Microsoft's Kinect, Flutter makes use of the Mac's built-in Webcam to recognize simple gestures your hands make between one and six feet away. Right now, it can control navigation for iTunes and Spotify, with Netflix and YouTube support slated next.

Flutter isn't designed for large movements that could be used in playing games, which limits it to navigational duties, but you don't need an expensive piece of hardware to make use of it. The company says it plans to make money by licensing the technology to software companies that want to integrate Flutter into their apps.

Wired's Steve Levy speculates that Flutter makes a good takeover target for Apple, especially since its technology could presumably be rolled into OS X and combat Microsoft bringing Kinect to Windows. In the meantime, mouse-free control of music on your Mac will soon be just a download away.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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26 comments
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  • Kinect is more than a web cam

    While this is nice and I am not trying to insult it by any means but using a web cam will severely limit what can be done. The kinect has sensors that can determine depth perception or 3D, infrared, and track multiple objects and movements.
    bobiroc
    • You are correct, Bob, Flutter is no Kinect

      I tried Flutter about two weeks ago and it worked for the most part. Sometimes just the movement of my shoulders or other body part would activate it's iTunes music play-pause switch functions. (Very seldom but it did occur.)

      I stopped using it after the first few hours not because Flutter didn't work as advertised but I didn't care to have my iSight camera on all that time.
      kenosha77a
      • Maybe it will improve

        but I think the limitations of a standard webcam will severely limit what flutter can do. Since the webcam lacks all those other sensors and the ability to move to follow objects it will not be able to compete with what the Kinect can do.

        I am actually interested to see how Kinect on Windows develops. Will we see computers and laptops with Kinect Devices integrated into it in the future?
        bobiroc
    • Um, no it doesn't

      "The kinect has sensors that can determine depth perception or 3D, infrared, and track multiple objects and movements."
      "Since the webcam lacks all those other sensors...."

      Your comments on the Kinect's hardware are simply not true. The Kinect has only three sensors, and only two of them are actively involved in position and gesture sensing, the video camera and a laser projector/monochrome CMOS sensor. That's it. It does not have separate sensors to determine all these features, it uses the input of the camera, combines it with data form the laser projector, as sensed by the CMOS chip, and uses a standard 3D reconstruction algorithm, similar to what James Cameron did in the new Titanic, to derive 3D position data. It then uses the data from the camera to obtain gesture data.
      Much of this can be done with just the camera input, without the 3D range sensor, which provides little usable interface data when use with a laptop or desktop UI control device.
      So yes, the Kinect is more than just a web cam, but not all that much more.

      Note to those who -1ed this: care to point to where this post if actually incorrect. Good luck with that.
      .DeusExMachina.
      • Really?!?!

        Comparing Kinect to a webcam? Really?!?! There is no comparison. And your comment "the kinect is more than just a web cam, but not all that much more." is just ridiculous.
        to_be_announced
      • How so?

        @jbeck82
        Well then, please list what other sensors exist in the Kinect besides the camera and the laser/CMOS (and the mic, which is not used in gesture input sensing).
        Good luck with that because there aren't any.
        .DeusExMachina.
  • Combat kinect on the desktop?

    Apple must be really scared, MS is onto a real winner. Time to dump those Apple shares;-)
    Richard Flude
    • You realize Flutter is not an Apple company right?

      NT
      bobiroc
      • "...Flutter is not an Apple company..."

        ...yet.
        PollyProteus
    • Why?

      Is this an Apple product? (No) Is anyone actually using Kinect on their laptop? (No)

      Now, no matter how clever Kinect is, do you honestly think you'll be using it to control your laptop down at your local Starbucks?

      I actually don't see why you'd use this technology with a laptop, the point of Kinect is to allow you to control a device you're physically distant from. So a laptop? Hardly.

      It could be VERY useful when using a computer with a projector, I can see this working quite well. And for games, of course!

      But why would you wave at your laptop? I actually don't see the point on a MacBook either - Mac keyboard have media keys for playing/pausing music.

      But I doubt anyone at Apple gives a monkey's about this. If (and that's a big "if") it becomes something that's used with PCs then Apple might feel they wish to respond. But we're a LONG way off that, and I'm not convinced we'll ever get there.

      If anyone's going to bring Kinect to the Mac it'll probably be Microsoft with support in PowerPoint (or maybe Microsoft Messenger?)
      jeremychappell
    • MSFT is definitely the one running scared

      iPhone is bigger than all of softie. Oops! iPhone/iPad are each bigger draws than the old monopoly (proprietary) file formats, lock in, bundling BS that MSFT put all their effort into.

      I hear that Softie now does NOT ALLOW iPhone, iPod or iPad on it's 'campus' (mental ward). Sounds like a lock down to me. And it sure sounds like Softie is scared.

      What is stopping Apple from releasing OS X or maybe even a variant of iOS for the masses who are saddled with a lowly PC? Nothing. Wake up, it's nearly over for softie as Win 8 is promising the moon, far more than any other of their OSes, and they simply are not capable of meeting a deadline or getting a 1st gen OS to work correctly. (Or doing anything outside of 8086 chipset, for that matter).

      Now they are going to put Metro (failed UI that it is) on Windows? Desperation.
      comp_indiana
      • Did you just wander into this discusson by mistake?

        From what I gathered from the article and the comments, this discussion is about the Kinect and the Flutter thingy which might give Macs a little bit of Kinect-type functionality.

        And then, you wander in, completely clueless, or running scared that, Apple has no real competition in place for the Kinect.

        Now, you can remain in complete denial, as you seem to want to be, or you can accept the fact that, when it comes to OSes and software, Microsoft is many times more relevant than Apple, and they'll continue being so with Windows 8 coming up, and becoming a much bigger player on all the form-factors, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and whatever else they can fit Windows 8 into. Apple will continue raking in the dough for a while with its 3 basic products, and Google will continue giving Apple fits with Android.

        Look around and smell the reality.
        adornoe
      • who's locked?

        You think Microsoft locks you in? You must be joking. Apple doesn't let you use their OS on ANYTHING but their own hardware. And if you use any of their other software (like iTunes) on other hardware or OS, it's crap. I suppose it's easy to develop software that works on a single platform. Microsoft's OS works on pretty much whatever you throw it at within reason. So don't talk about being locked with Microsoft. That's ALL Apple.

        As far as this whole Flutter thing goes, don't see a use for it. Who's going to use this on a laptop, seriously. Sure it's kinda cool. Just isn't practical. Not saying there couldn't be some good use for it in the future. It's good technology that just doesn't have a good use yet.
        to_be_announced
      • Doesn't help

        Sorry but if you are trying to support Apple comment like that do not help your cause, they just make you look like a fanboy.

        Of course adornoe, you make your self look like an MS fanboy by making the claim that MS will become a much bigger player on all form-factors due to Win 8. Not saying Win 8 won't be a success but at this point any claims about what it will do in the market are just guesses with nothing to back them up.
        non-biased
    • There is no market for Kinect on the desktop

      Being that there have been demonstration systems for a number of platforms, well before the release of the Kinect, many of the home built, that do all of this, and being that Apple already had patents for employing a similar technology to use the display itself (with no need for any camera) that can do all this, why on earth are you making this claim?
      There is no market for this. If there were, not only Apple, but MS, and any number of others would have done this a LONG time ago, as NONE of this technology is new. Just maybe new to you.
      .DeusExMachina.
      • Not new

        I had a suite of games that did the same thing and I believe it was called iToy. Worked very well for the games they provided, but it only ran on Mac OS 9 and was never upgraded to OS X. That would have been either 1999 or 2000.
        veggiedude
      • of course

        Apple already had patents for this. They invent everything, right? They just didn't develop it because theres no use for it, right? Sure seems like there is a use for it, otherwise it wouldn't be selling.

        Oh, and Apple invented computers, electricity, television, radio, microwaves. Hmm, what else? Probably teleporters too, they just haven't produced them yet, right?
        to_be_announced
      • Kinect on the desktop is selling? Really?!?

        @jbeck82
        Please provide citations of this miraculous event.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • Idiotic

      I don't expect Flutter to be able to do what Kinect has the potential of doing but that was just a small minded idiotic statement to put it nicely.
      non-biased
  • Kinekt up...

    So you're on the airplane, and gesturing away. The attendant comes by and says, "Here's your drink, would you like some peanuts?" You reach up and take your drink and the snack, then look back at your screen. "Format C:? (Y/n) Y Formatting C:..." Arrrrrgh!!!!
    Tony Burzio