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Is iWatch gesture control how Steve Jobs "cracked the code" of iTV?


February 25, 2013

Is iWatch gesture and voice control what Steve Jobs was talking about when he says he "cracked the code?"

Is iWatch gesture and voice control what Steve Jobs was talking about when he says he "cracked the code?"

In Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO is quoted as saying that he finally “cracked the code” of an Apple TV set. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Isaacson quoted Jobs. “I finally cracked it.” What if Jobs’ secret was Apple’s rumored smartwatch? And what if that secret involved hands-free 3D gesture control?

Not long ago, the internet was abuzz with rumors of an Apple smartwatch (iWatch?). Most of us have been focusing on the wearable device as an extension of an iPhone. Flexible touchscreen, voice control, and some version of iOS. Think Pebble on Cupertino-made steroids.

Gesture control, Apple-style

But what if that was only half of the iWatch equation? What if – like the MYO armband device we reported on today – the smartwatch also opened the door to 3D gestures? What if you could use the iWatch to control a Mac, iPhone, iPad, and – ahem – a TV with a wave of the hand?

iWatch gesture control could be that “simplest user interface you could imagine.” Unlike Kinect, it wouldn’t require a bulky sensor sitting atop your TV set. A built-in accelerometer and gyroscope (and perhaps muscle-sensing technology like MYO?) transmitting information to the TV would be all it would need.

My imagined version of the iWatch could also control the TV via touch or voice. Take your pick: to bring up the latest episode of Game of Thrones, you could a) wave your hand and point your finger, b) ask Siri, or c) tap and swipe a few times on your wrist.

Apple would naturally make sure it syncs with all Apple – and only Apple – devices. It’s a two-fold victory: it makes the entire Apple ecosystem more appealing, and it enhances customer lock-in.

Perhaps I’m looking too much into an old quote. Perhaps Jobs was talking about something else entirely. Perhaps content licensing obstacles have ground Jobs' TV dream to a halt.

... but if Apple is developing a wearable wrist-based device and it doesn’t include some kind of 3D gesture control, perhaps it should.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

You really DON'T need a watch for gesture control. It could be built right into the TV much like a Kinnect.

And the watch alone wouldn't do it because the watch itself DOES NOT know where it is in "three space". It would need to be calibrated EVERY time it was used much like the WiiU controller. Everytime that controller is used in game play it must be calibrated. This is usually hidden in the game play by a "calibration screen". I'm not sure someone wanting to change the channels on their TV would want to wait for a calibration EVERY time they had to do something simple like change a channel or raise or lower the volume.

Great idea, but not sure the watch alone would do it.....

Fred Raimondi

Absolutely not. Three simple reasons this is not what Steve Jobs was talking about:

3D gesture control is a pipe dream of people who have watched Minority Report too many times. Aside from the fact that people don't want to memorize invisible secret codes to accomplish simple tasks, there's the phenomenon of "gorilla arm syndrome" that means consumers won't use an interface that requires them to hold their hands in the air to control a UI.

Right-handed people wear their watch on their left wrist. Every UI that involves pointing uses your dominant hand, meaning your right hand if you're right-handed. Using a watch as a method of interpreting gestures would be awkward at first, so that the average consumer would balk at strapping a watch on to control their television, even if they weren't sure why it felt uncomfortable or strange to do so.

Steve Jobs would never approve an interface that required the user to have a watch on their wrist in order to interact with the TV. He famously mocked touchscreens that required a stylus, pointing out that you can never find a stylus when you need one. Do you think he'd approve a TV that only worked when you remembered where your watch was?

Jayson Elliot

Moving my entire hand just to change the channel? I'm lazy enough to use my thumb to change the channel on my remote let alone having to move my entire hand and making gestures with my fingers.

Sambath Pech
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