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PointGrab PointSwitch Turns Your Finger Into a Remote Control

Imagine if you could dim the lights by simply pointing at the switch? Or, what if you could start your microwave without having to get up off your couch? This is the type of home automation PointGrab is trying to make a reality with its newly announced PointSwitch technology.

According to PointGrab, the technology works by creating a transparent touch-friendly space in front of the user at a distance. The company will be releasing two versions of its technology: the AirTouch for Consumer Electronics and PointSwitch for Home Environment.

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AirTouch will build upon PointGrab’s existing  gesture technology that allows users to interact with computer operating systems touchlessly. The company’s current technology, which is already being used in notebooks from Lenovo, Samsung and Fujitsu among others, supports gestures such as dragging and dropping, swiping, zooming and rotating. The newer technology, however, will allow users to point at objects on screen from a distance.

 According to the concept video, Windows 8 users will be able to select Live Tiles to pointing at them and TV owners will be able to point at their flat screen to control it. AirTouch will also incorporate eye tracking technology in conjunction with motion tracking to carry out tasks more accurately. Pointing at different areas of the screen will also trigger different functions. For example, pointing at the corner of your TV screen could bring a viewer back to the home screen of their Smart TV.

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This gesture-based  functionality is similar to what you’ll find with the Leap Motion controller, but the Leap Motion’s controls can vary between apps. So, for example, certain apps may allow you to point at objects to select them but others may support different ways of interacting. PointGrab’s solution seems to incorporate universal controls at the OS level.

The home automation flavor, PointSwitch, offers similar functionality for various appliances in the home. PointGrab says this tech will enable users to point at lights and air conditioners to turn them on and off. More sophisticated use cases include dimming the lights, partially drawing the shades and controlling the temperature by pointing from a distance.

 The company also boasts that the technology will work despite any angle or position, so that you don’t have to adjust your sitting position to fix the temperature or brighten the lights. Essentially, the concept video portrays PointSwitch as an invisible remote control for your home.

Both technologies will be available in early 2014, but PointGrab hasn’t specified an exact timeframe. The company will be showcasing AirTouch and PointSwitch for the first time at CES 2014.