By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated October 03, 2013.
Although it played catch up with Apple on the touchscreen front and the voice recognition front, Google just made an acquisition it hopes will drive more innovation on its platforms. Google snapped up Flutter.
Backed by big venture capitalist names like Andreessen Horowitzh, Spring Ventures, Y Combinator, WI Harper and NEA, Flutter launched in 2010. The company was birthed from a vision to "defeat the evil" of the keyboard and mouse. Flutter's founders are on a mission to give people an alternative to what they call "unnatural user interfaces."
Here's how it works: You hold your hand to your webcam. Your webcam detects it. And Flutter controls your computer. The software is available for Windows and Mac platforms and works with popular apps like iTunes, Spotify, Quicktime, Grooveshark, Pandora, Netflix and YouTube.
It's Like Magic!
"When we started three years ago, our dream to build a ubiquitous and power-efficient gesture recognition technology was considered by many as just 'a dream,' not a real possibility," said Flutter CEO Navneet Dalal. "Since then, we have strived to build the best machine vision algorithms and a delightful user experience."
Even after the company launched its first app, the masterminds behind the concept didn't stop research gesture technology. They work on the premise that "any sufficiently advanced technology should be indistinguishable from magic." The fun brand, whose Web site looks like a comic book, wants to make you feel like a superhero.
Flutter's latest version also supports PowerPoint and Keynote. You can also mark your preferred music or video app. For example, the company explained, if you mark Spotify as a preferred app while creating a Keynote, as long as Spotify is running, Flutter will control Spotify playlist even if you are focused on Keynote.
"We're really impressed by the Flutter team's ability to design new technology based on cutting-edge research," Google said in a statement. "We look forward to supporting and collaborating on their research efforts at Google."
Google is betting on the skyrocketing growth projections for gesture recognition technologies. According to research firm Research and Markets, the total touchless sensing and gesture recognition market is expected to reach $15 billion by 2018. That means the market will see a double digit compound annual growth rate every year between 2013 and 2018.
We asked Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, for his take on the acquisition. Despite the growth projections, he told us gesture recognition is a relatively new way of controlling devices -- a broad array of devices from handsets to set-top boxes.
"This acquisition gives Google new capabilities and options as it pursues its product roadmap," he said, "which includes a range of hardware products and new ways to engage with its content and services."