Control Your Music With a Wave of Your Hand: Flutter Hands-On

Music players such as iTunes and Spotify have gone through numerous updates to make the user experience as pleasant and seamless as possible. Hotkeys and key combinations exist for just about every function in these programs -- one of the most obvious being the spacebar for playing and pausing music. A limitation of using the spacebar to start and stop your music, however, is the fact that you must be in the app for the hotkey to work. Enter Flutter, a new app that allows users to play and pause their music just by holding their palms up to the webcam. While it's still in alpha, Flutter already shows lots of promise. We went hands-on with the app to see for ourselves how well it works.

Installing the app is easy. Just head to Flutter's website and click on the large "download" button at the top of the screen. This will take you to a page asking for your email address and whether or not you'd like to be kept up-to-date on program's the development progress. Once you've finished downloading the app, just follow the installation instructions.

After you've installed Flutter, a very brief tutorial explains how the app works:

Using Flutter is as intuitive as it seems: Simply hold up your hand to the webcam to start or stop your music. Impressively, the app responds immediately -- we didn't notice any delay when pausing or playing. Flutter recognizes the palm of your hand easily enough, so we decided to test the limits of its hand-recognition:

When displaying our hand palm-out, the app responded immediately.

Not surprisingly, the app didn't recognize our hand when we used just one finger.

Switching to two fingers, however, caused the app to work correctly (about half of the time).

To our surprise, displaying our hand palm-in caused the app to work correctly, with immediate responsiveness.

Overall, Flutter is a neat little app that makes listening to music on iTunes or Spotify that much easier while multitasking. Perhaps more importantly, it demonstrates the potential of using laptops' built-in webcams for a host of gesture-based controls. A future in which laptop users barely need to touch their keys doesn't seem so far away.