What's Google Up To With Its Latest Acquisition?


"Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our research at Google. We share Google's passion for 10x thinking, and we're excited to add their rocket fuel to our journey."

That announcement was splashed on the landing page of Flutter, the nascent Silicon Valley developer of a gesture-control app that just hit the tech startup jackpot, thanks to this week's buyout from search giant Google ( GOOG ).

Founded three years ago, Flutter detects basic hand signals through the existing webcams on Windows ( MSFT ) and Mac ( APPL ) computers to control apps and software like iTunes, Netflix ( NFLX ), Spotify, and VLC. This nifty product not only helps keep carpal tunnel at bay, but gives our hands a rest period from that petri dish of a keyboard.

Of course, the burning question on any tech junkie's mind is what Google plans to do with its newfound foothold in the gesture-recognition space. How will Google hasten Flutter's mission, as explained to TechCrunch , of powering "the eyes of our devices -- in the same way that Siri functions as the iPhone's ears"?

Naturally, as is the case with most big tech deals, mum's the word over at Mountain View -- leaving us to speculate wildly as to the eventual windup. And, so, here we go.

It's worth a mention, since gesture-control technology was largely commercially pioneered by console gaming devices like Nintendo's (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) Wii and Microsoft's Xbox Kinect -- and is soon to come from Sony's ( SNE ) Playstation 4 -- but it's pretty unlikely Google's disruptive idea involves venturing into video-game territory.

Alternative energy blogs like Blue Phoenix have their fingers crossed that Google snapping up Flutter spells big changes in the future of home energy management . Noting Google's standing commitment to clean energy with a $1 billion-plus investment in large-scale wind and solar projects (along with its ill-fated PowerMeter monitoring tool), the hope is for a one-upping over the motion-sensing Nest Learning Thermostat and highly anticipated Nest smoke alarm.

What about that April Fool's joke Google played on us a couple years back that introduced Gmail Motion and its "spatial tracking algorithm" to the public? Sure, having to do a two-thumbs-up to reply all or pretending to lick an imaginary stamp to send a message were a bit spoofy, but they were essentially heightened versions of a very real technology. A very real technology Google just spent a whole bunch of money on.

Folding the technology into virtual computing (à la Minority Report , minus the gloves, please!) in offerings like the camera-equipped Chromebook laptops, Nexus tablets, and the facial recognition and gesture search functions already present on Android phones, also seems logical.

Having recently entered the smart TV market, Google may leverage gesture control -- like FreespaceMotionEngine's in-air pointing -- for use in a future-generation, camera-carrying Chromecast device.

Or maybe this technology is going on the road. Google's self-driving car has been in the works for years now, and perhaps Flutter will bring things like the ability to roll down windows with the swipe of a hand closer to the assembly line. After all, can it be chalked up to mere coincidence that, within the same week Google acquired Flutter, it also filed for a patent on gesture-based car controls ?

Then again, this could just be a booster for Glass.

Whatever Google's got up its sleeve (or on the bridge of its nose), we welcome this wave of, and to, the future.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks , Technology

Referenced Stocks: APPL , GOOG , MSFT , NFLX , SNE



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