iPhone 5 becomes PC motion controller with Spicebox Mauz

Brings Minority Report-like motion control to desktops and laptops

9 Jan 2013
Spicebox Mauz

Start-up company Spicebox has announced plans to produce an add-on for the Apple iPhone 5 that provides an innovative new means of controlling computers: motion and visual gesture recognition.

The Mauz is a paired system, which comprises an add-on dongle that connects to an iPhone 5, an iPhone app and a companion desktop application. The system is designed to replace the usual optical mouse, trackball or touchpad used to control desktop and laptop computers. When activated, the Minority Report-inspired system allows the user to control their desktop or laptop machine either by physically moving the iPhone itself or by performing gestures above the iPhone 5's front-facing camera which are then recognised in a manner similar to the Microsoft Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360.

"The wireless mouse was a great improvement over corded versions. But it has become old fashioned; technologies like Wii and Kinect have led us to expect the greater freedom of controlling software through motion and visual gestures," claimed Gilad Meiri, Spicebox chief executive. "From hovering your hand over your phone to raise the volume, to rotating your wrist – iPhone in hand – to 3D rotate objects in graphic design software, to holding your phone and flicking your wrist left or right to rewind or advance the next PowerPoint slide, Mauz's gesture controls feel like an extension of you. They’re as much about instinct as they are intuitiveness."

To demonstrate the capabilities of the device, Spicebox has developed a package of gesture control add-ins for five popular software packages. An Adobe Photoshop extension, for example, allows the user to slide his or her hand forward or backward above the iPhone to move forward and backward in a project's edit history, while holding the iPhone and moving your hand up or down zooms in and out. Tilting the iPhone backwards copies, while tilting forward pastes. Another add-in for Google TV provides playback control, adjusting the volume with a wave of the hand in front of the iPhone, changing channels with a flick of the wrist and starting and stopping playback. Additional add-ins have also been created for Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Reader and the Blender open-source 3D package.

Scheduled for a June 2013 launch, Spicebox is currently floating the project on the Kickstarter crowdfunding site, where it is asking for $150,000 to fund its first production run of Mauz add-ons.

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