But as the “alpha” designation suggests, it’s still quite finicky. I tried out Flutter on a MacBook Pro and found that while it could definitely play and pause music on command, it often interpreted my hand moving away from the screen postgesture as an additional gesture, and would turn the music back on after I had paused it (or the reverse). Nariyawala says they’ve solved many issues with the software, but are still working on eliminating these false positives.
Flutter may have to win over some skeptics, too. Sidhant Gupta, a graduate student and researcher at the University of Washington who builds and designs interaction and sensing systems, says the software doesn’t look much different from other efforts he’s seen from Toshiba and the Israeli startup eyeSight. But he does think it might work as part of a more powerful gesture-recognition system if combined with a Kinect-like 3-D depth sensor and sonic sensor.
Dalal and Nariyawala have plenty of additions in the works. In the coming months, they intend to make it possible for Flutter to control Netflix and YouTube videos and roll out additional gesture controls such as skipping forward or back and turning volume up or down.
They showed me a demo of a two-player video game they built. Players use their hands to intercept blue shooting stars that fly across the screen, blowing them up in a shower of red and yellow. The game is simple, but it required no more startup time than the average computer application and seemed to accurately interpret its creators’ gestures.
In the future, the company envisions charging for some advanced features. Flutter may try to make money by letting app developers use its software, with Flutter taking a cut of the resulting revenue. The company might also license its software to device makers so it can be included on new gadgets. For now, though, Dalal and Nariyawala are offering the software for free as they work out the kinks.
“We want it to be as smooth and seamless as possible,” Dalal says.