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Flutter Lets You Control Your Media Using Your Webcam

Simon Slangen 22-10-2012

Flutter Lets You Control Your Media Using Your Webcam flutter logoWe’re always looking for new ways to control our electronics. Thanks to smart phones and tablets, touch screen technology is on the rise, slowly even making its way to desktop computing. But it’s not the only way things can go—a vertical touch screen is still a rather impractical (albeit nifty) way to go about things.


Another trend—gestures and movement—can be found by looking at game consoles. Most notably, the Kinect of Microsoft’s XBox. With nothing but a (very special) camera pointed at you, it can register your movements, and try to determine your outline and location in three-dimensional space. Actually, the Kinect might be the closest thing we have right now to a Minority Report-like computer interface, especially considering the ever-growing collection of home-brewed Kinect applications.

Lacking one of those fancy Kinect cameras, Flutter lets you use your run-of-the-mill webcam to control your computer as if you were featuring in Minority Report.


Before you start out, it should be noted that any gesticulation webcam application is, by definition, a poor approximation of the awesome things that can be done using a Kinect, or similar technology. That being said, Flutter gives it a very decent shot, and positively surprised me in its ability to recognize my flailing limbs.

Flutter Lets You Control Your Media Using Your Webcam flutter pause

The application, available free of charge for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, runs unobtrusively in your Windows task bar, or Mac OS X menu bar—in fact, Flutter’s presence is most obvious through your webcam’s indicator light.



As soon as Flutter is running on your computer (and you’ve finished the quick tutorial), you can start controlling your media by throwing your hands in front of your webcam. That is, Flutter has the ability to recognize a trio of hand gestures, and takes appropriate action. Right now, the list of available hand gestures is concise, but enough for simple interaction. Holding your palm up to the camera will pause, or play your media. Pointing your thumb to your right or left, will respectively skip to the next or previous item in your playlist.

Flutter Lets You Control Your Media Using Your Webcam flutter gestures

A number of different applications are supported by Flutter, including Windows Media Player and iTunes. The same goes for video applications, with support for VLC Media Player and QuickTime. Flutter will automatically detect when you switch between applications (even if more than one of the aforementioned applications are open in the background), and change the reaction to your gestures accordingly.

What’s Next?

It’s hard to say whether Flutter is an important step in user interfaces, a gimmick, or both. After all, although the application works better than initially expected, the media keys on your keyboard might be more practical in the long run. An undeniable fact is that the application has very interesting implications. With Flutter allegedly planning to license their gesture-interpreter to other application developers, we may see a number of interesting gesture-based applications pop up in the future.


What do you think? Gimmick or feature? Would you see yourself extensively using a gesture-based technology like Flutter? Chime in, and let us know what you think in the comments section below the article!

Related topics: Gesture Control, Webcam.

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  1. Big D
    October 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Great idea. Doesn't work at all on my laptop, sadly. (Yes, I checked to make sure it was set for the webcam itself and not for 3rd party cam software.)

    • Aaron Couch
      April 10, 2013 at 3:29 am

      You might want to try again. In my experience, it takes a little practice getting it to work.

  2. Edward Bellair
    October 23, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Got to give this a try.

  3. Raj Sarkar
    October 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Seems cool. Wish I had a webcam.

  4. Anthony Baptiste
    October 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Can't wait to test this out :) . Good find!

  5. TechGeek Mouslim
    October 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I liked this cool software...
    but unfortunately... I'm using other media players(JetAudio & VLC)

    • Simon Slangen
      October 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

      I don't know about JetAudio, but I've used Flutter with VLC. :-)

  6. Boni Oloff
    October 23, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Cool, the future comes true. In the future, people just need to think. And everything happen. :)

  7. Ben
    October 23, 2012 at 12:47 am

    Hmm... "Flutter Let's [Let Us] You Control Your Media Using Your Webcam". Something's wrong with that title.

  8. Nohl Lyons
    October 22, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Does it let you wave your hands around like Tom Cruise In "Minority Report?"

  9. Dino Pearsons
    October 22, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I love this app. I've been using it for a while, and it's great fun. And using it just looks cool.