The first really major consumer hardware application for gesture control was Microsoft's Kinect. This high-tech camera accessory plugged into an Xbox 360 to add gesture and motion control, as well as voice commands to the popular game console.
What made Kinect interesting, was that it wasn't pitched as a game-only device, and in fact, recently we've heard more about its use as a multimedia remote control than any new video games. (One exception is the brand-new Kinect Star Wars game, which is about as much of a train wreck as it sounds -- although the especially goofy song parody dance mini-game is pure red meat for nerds).
But, Kinect hasn't been a huge game-changer, even though about 18 million units have shipped (note, that's shipped, not sold), since its release in November 2010, and we haven't seen too many other attempts to build devices around hand gestures since.
The exception is Samsung. The electronics giant is promoting a new gesture control system for TVs called Smart TV, which involves building a small webcam into the bezel of a TV and using it to translate hand waves and spoken words into action. Can it add some game-like sizzle to the normally tedious work of pressing remote control buttons (we ask with tongue planted firmly in cheek)?
The short answer is "no." According to our colleagues at CNET: "Smart Interaction has promise but feels half-baked and more like a gimmick than a compelling upgrade. Once the novelty wears off, its usefulness is limited (at best) to those times you don't have a remote in-hand." In hands-on testing, the Smart TV voice and gesture control features routinely mis-heard commands, and the gesture commands were laggy, when they were properly received at all.
It's a shame, because not only is simple voice a gesture control a staple of sci-fi movies and TV shows, but if done right it could actually be very useful for both games and everyday tasks, and could certainly help build game-like experiences into all kinds of situations.