Francis Bea

Gesture recognition technology is a reality today embraced by hackers and intriguing to the everyday consumer. It’s a fledgling technology that’s rapidly becoming more sophisticated. But within the technology, there’s an unrecognized potential that marketers can tap, as Saatchi & Saatchi senior VP of strategic planning Jacob Braude explained at the ad:tech panel, “New Marketing Platforms: Wearable Devices, Advanced TV & More!”

Forecasting the future of gesture recognition devices, Braude says that it’s only another four or five years before gesture recognition technology comes baked into our laptops. And he predicts that gesture recognition devices will live in every laptop throughout the world.

Gesture recognition devices shot into the public’s eye in 2010 after developers realized that Microsoft’s Kinect device, first sold as a peripheral for the Xbox 360 console, could be hacked to do anything from digitally manning a robot or being used as a multi-touch interface.

Since then motion detection tech competitors have one-upped Microsoft’s rudimentary gesture recognition technology. “Kinect only sees arms and legs, but the real world is more definite than that,” says Braude. Some have advanced the field with algorithms that can detect gestures down to the finger, like Leap Motion’s Leap. Leap is a USB peripheral for your computer that enables its users to interact with their computers simply with gestures like the flick of a finger, sans mouse. Other companies like Flutter have forgone peripherals altogether and provide a downloadable app that will track movements through a computer’s webcam. Users can use Flutter to pause and play music with the wave of hand.

The star of the show as of late, and one on Braude’s radar, is a wire that imbues gesture recognition into everyday physical objects, including doorknobs, tables, and even water. The tech, called Touché and developed by researchers from Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University, has unparalleled practical applications. Touché can recognize the difference between pinching and grasping, for example, and can be articulated to automatically unlock the door when grasping, or lock the door when pinching.

So where do the marketers come in? You have to first understand that gesture recognition technology at the very foundation is based on the core principal that unconsciously, physical experiences and gestures reflect your feelings and desires, Braude says. For example, the sensation of weight will trigger a feeling of self-mportance. When you want something your body reacts with the act of pulling, or bringing your hands closer to your body.

Knowing this, companies like Google, as Braude presented in a case study, used full body gesture recognition tech in a grassroots marketing campaign where Google reps invited pedestrians to decorate a virtual Christmas tree.

As gesture recognition technology advances, one thing to keep in mind is that opportunities to leverage the tech interactively in the real world tend to translate into curious onlookers. And with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks just a smartphone away, onlookers will naturally share these intriguing experiences with their friends.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.