More and more electronic devices are being made with gesture recognition features. As the name suggests, gesture recognition is designed to recognize the physical movements, or “gestures,” of humans. Waving your hand in a particular pattern in front of the device, for instance, may tell it to launch a specific app. Gesture recognition such as this is often found in smartphones and tablet computers. To learn more about gesture recognition and how it works, keep reading.

Gesture recognition is classified as a type of touchless user interface (TUI). Unlike a touchscreen device, TUI devices are controlled without touch. A voice-controlled smart speaker like Google Home and Amazon Alexa are prime examples of TUIs. By speaking commands, you can control these devices, all without relying on touch. However, gesture recognition is also a type of TUI, as it’s also controlled without the use of touch. With that said, many devices that support gesture recognition also support touchscreen.

While there are many different types of gesture recognition technology, they all work on the same basic principle of recognizing human movement as a form of input. The device features one or more sensors — or cameras — that monitors the user’s movement. When it detects a movement that corresponds with a command, it responds with the appropriate output. This may be unlocking the device, launching an app, changing the volume, etc.

So, what benefits does gesture recognition technology offer? For starters, it doesn’t wear down the device or its components. Using a traditional QWERTY keypad or even a touchscreen interface will inevitably cause some wear of the device. Assuming it’s made well, the device may last for years. But regular use will cause it to wear nonetheless. With gesture recognition, however, input is performed without directly touching or otherwise making contact with the device. You move your hand or finger in front of the sensor, and it responds accordingly. Because of its touchless approach, the device sustains less wear.

Gesture recognition also opens the doors to a whole new world of input possibilities. Instead of being limited to traditional forms of input, users can experiment with other, gesture-based forms of input. Some devices even allow users to set up their own gestures.

In addition to smartphones and tablets, gesture recognition is also found in automotive infotainment centers, video game consoles, human machine interfaces and more. The bottom line is that gesture recognition technology is becoming more and more popular, and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon.