Voice+Gesture control is all the rage these days in the world of consumer electronics, mostly because it no longer completely sucks. I recently reviewed Samsung’s Evolution Kit for HD Living and found its gesture control a huge improvement over last year’s implementation, and of course HouseLogix’s VoicePod has been getting a lot of attention in the custom installation market for adding Siri-like functionality to Control4 systems. So it’s no surprise that we’re starting to see voice+gesture control home automation systems popping up on Kickstarter. The newest, Flowton, is six days into its 35-day funding campaign, and has collected about $8,000 so far against a $150,000 goal.
What makes Flowton neat, in my opinion, is that you can customize your gestures, assigning specific movements to specific functions, and if this mockup is any indication of the final programming software, it looks like it’ll be a snap to organize your own gesture-based control trees:
The downsides — for me, anyway — are the fact that Flowton is all IR-blaster based (except for its interaction with smart plugs, that is), with no support for IP, RS-232, or any other sort of advanced control communication protocol. There’s also the fact that I’m at that point in my life where I want control to be easier — or outright automated — and perhaps it’s just my gray hairs speaking here, but all of this hand-waving and yacking seems more complicated to me than simply picking up a remote or firing up a control app.
But I may be in the minority on that. Plenty of people are going absolutely ga-ga over the newly updated Kinect including with the upcoming Xbox One, so there’s obviously something to this.
Speaking of the Kinect, you’ll need one — or something like it — to get the most out of the Flowton. If you don’t want to go the Microsoft route, Flowton suggests either the Asus Xtion, Primesense Carmine, or SoftKinetic DepthSense 311 as a depth-sensing alternative. So if you’re looking to Kickstart the Flowton, factor that into your budget.
Less that recommended add-on, you can pick up a basic Flowton Controller with a built-in RGB camera and one IR blaster for $229, all the way up to a “Complete” package with one IR blaster and two smart plug modules, for $299.