Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



The Computing Revolution Will Be Gesture-ized

Watch stocks you care about

The single, easiest way to keep track of all the stocks that matter...

Your own personalized stock watchlist!

It's a 100% FREE Motley Fool service...

Click Here Now

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) has been taking lots of lumps from some of our Foolish analysts in recent months, for one bad decision after another. Its purchase of British software maker Autonomy has been a big target, but there could be some hidden treasure in that company's product portfolio. One in particular could bring gesture-based computing closer to mass market than anyone expected, and that's great news -- if HP can pull it off.

An ace in the hole?
When I last wrote about Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) efforts to go beyond touchscreens, I thought it represented the current extent of gesture-based interface design. But Autonomy has been working on augmented-reality, or AR, software called Aurasma, which allows its users to gesture at their devices to manipulate the software. No need to touch a touchscreen or scroll a scroll wheel. And there's no proprietary hardware needed -- Aurasma works on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhones and iPads, as well as Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android phones.

The software's still limited, but more by the AR component than by its interface. Most AR software (Aurasma included) doesn't do anything until a human being tells it what it's looking at and how to react. AR software can become a great companion to gesture-based computing in time, but right now, gestures seem closer to broad acceptance.

Interface, the final frontier
If HP can make Aurasma into something more functional than fun, it could become an integral part of future interface designs, and could develop into a tremendous new revenue stream. Technology that works on mobile devices can (and should) eventually adapt to larger interfaces, which opens up new possibilities for business and recreation. HP will have an uphill battle against Microsoft and its Kinect technology in this regard, but first-mover advantage in interfaces can keep a company on top for decades -- provided the interface is intuitive enough for most.

Augmented reality is itself a major new development in interface design, with Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) working on a system that could incorporate real-world objects into next-gen games. Columbia University developed an augmented-reality goggle system for Marine mechanics, which helps them identify complex machinery with helpful pop-up displays over recognized objects. The device, like Aurasma, can work when controlled by an Android phone.

Gesture-based interfaces would be an ideal pairing with AR. Think about the potential to manipulate objects that pop up on displays in response to camera cues. A billboard could offer you an order form with a wave or a nod. Combining sensor technology from jilted iPhone supplier OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI  ) with laser projection technology from Microvision (Nasdaq: MVIS  ) would be a great way to extend the use of Aurasma-like interfaces. It would help OmniVision expand beyond Apple, and Microvision's advanced imaging systems might finally become profitable. Fool contributor Tim Beyers isn't keen on Microvision, and it remains a highly speculative play. Can the forward-thinking company finally make its solutions accessible to the mass market? HP, Autonomy, and Aurasma could help it get there . . . unless Microsoft gets there first.

It might not take too long to find out if these companies will have the reality of their profits augmented by new interface developments. Add them to your Watchlist now and stay up to date on all their latest technological progress.

Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial stake in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ for more insights and random ruminations.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Google and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1575860, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/22/2016 5:46:31 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 20 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:00 PM
AAPL $116.60 Down -0.46 -0.39%
Apple CAPS Rating: ****
GOOGL $824.06 Up +2.43 +0.30%
Alphabet (A shares… CAPS Rating: *****
HPQ $13.80 Down -0.30 -2.13%
HP CAPS Rating: ***
MSFT $59.66 Up +2.41 +4.21%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ****
MVIS $1.15 Down -0.06 -4.96%
Microvision CAPS Rating: *
OVTI.DL $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
OmniVision Technol… CAPS Rating: *****
SNE $32.11 Down -0.61 -1.86%
Sony CAPS Rating: ***