Google's April Fools' Day prank Gmail Motion (above) was meant to be ridiculous (i.e., one puts more work into sending an e-mail with elaborate body language than by merely clicking "send"), but the tech is completely viable.
More than viable, actually. As in, it already exists.
Evan Suma, a postdoc research associate at the University of Southern California, unveiled his team's software, FAAST (for Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit), in late December. Using the Microsoft Kinect sensor, he employs the human body as a mouse and keyboard to operate various applications and video games. (His video playing World of Warcraft with body motions has 1.5 million views on YouTube, and includes a Royksopp track with the appropriate lyrics, "All that I want is keeping it easy.")
Suma tells me that when he went to work on Friday, April 1, and saw Google Motion, he thought, "Hey, I can already do that." So he put about 30 minutes into retooling FAAST for Gmail using body movements specific to the prank, and threw a video together in about two hours. Turning Google's joke on its head, he calls the program SLOOW, for Software Library Optimizing Obligatory Waving:… Read more