Do you remember that Minority Report interface Tom Cruise used to fight crime? Or rather to stop it before it started? The way he swiped videos in and out of focus using his fingers was just futuristically awesome. It’s a tech geek’s wet dream to be able to do that. And you know what – pretty soon, we actually can!
But for the time being, while the developers and researchers fine-tune the whole operation, FluidTunes allows us to control iTunes “Minority Report” style. That is control iTunes remotely using your hands and feet. Using the built-in iSight, this application recognizes movements over predefined areas. As a result, if you move or wave your hands/fingers over an area with a button on your screen, you can make iTunes play, pause or play the next/previous track.
FluidTunes superimposes your iTunes library (which is displayed with Cover Flow view) over what your iSight sees – that is you and your environment. There are 4 large buttons set in the FluidTunes window: Stop, Play, Next and Previous. Any motion detected over these buttons will trigger them. You might want to play around with it to get the hang of controlling them. It’s not as easy as it sounds. While testing this app, I inadvertently skipped songs and stopped iTunes several times. It takes practice to be able to maneuver around this program swiftly.
Sifting through your music is as easy as swiping your hand (or foot) across the screen through the songs’ cover art. Each song is represented as a cover art so if you have a large library, this could take quite cumbersome. However, you could just open up iTunes, select the song you want and play it, then return to FluidTunes for control.
While this sounds pretty fun (and it actually is), it can be quite hard to use. You have to be in a generally well-lit room in order to allow FluidTunes to differentiate/detect motion. And you might want to move your other body parts away so that if you’re bobbing your head to the music, you won’t accidentally pause iTunes. And if you’re in a room with a lot of movement, like if you live with roommates, their movements could actually trigger FluidTunes. To curb this, all you need to do is minimize the app when you’re not using. Or get your own room.
So when does this application really shine? At parties. Everyone whom I’ve shown this to has gone “Waaaoooowww”. They always want to try it themselves. That’s when I try to convince them to get a Mac.
While it may not be able to solve crimes or stop them from happening, FluidTunes is definitely an exciting application but it needs more work put into it to be able to attain the everyday usability I crave for. If you would like to give FluidTunes a whirl, you’ll need to be running OS X 10.4.11 or higher, have a built-in iSight and an iTunes library. Well-lit room optional.
Have you tried this application? Any thoughts about it? Encountered any other application which is as cool as this? Let me know in the comments.