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Kickstarter of the week: Bixi adds gesture control to smart devices, cheaply

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This week we look at the Bixi, a nifty little unit that allows you to add gesture control functionality to a range of smart devices.

Bixi’s sensor lets you add hands-free commands to a wide variety of devices. Sure touchscreens are great, but they’re not ideal in all situations, and here is where gesture controls come in.

Need to scroll to the next part of the recipe, but don’t want to muck up your £600 phone? No worries. Would prefer not to take your eyes off the road to take a call whilst driving? That makes sense. Don’t care to fiddle with audio controls while cycling? Now you have no need to.

These are just a handful of things Bixi can help you accomplish with no more than a wave of the hand, so let’s look a little deeper.

What’s so interesting?

Bixi’s versatility is what’s interesting. It can be used with apps, Bose Soundtouch speakers, LifX smart light bulbs, GoPro cameras, tablets, and all manner of Internet of Things devices.

More than that, it’s able to control multiple actions simultaneously, so you’re able to ride your bike with Bixi on both your GoPro and Music profiles, controlling both tunes and action cam with a hand wave.

It can even double as a handlebar-mounted bike sat-nav, using its LEDs to display turn-by-turn directions, meaning it’s also ideal for the car, so you can keep eyes on the road while using all your in-car gadgets.

Essentially, it’s your tickets to a hands-free household, as it works with Apple TV, Sony TV, Philips Hue, Spotify, Kindle, Nest, Sonos, Deezer, and more.

So where does the magic happen? Bixi works on If This Then That (IFTTT) principles, so when set to control a device, it can use gestures as triggers to initiate particular actions.

For example, you can wave up to scroll down your phone screen, or raise your hand to increase the volume of your current song.

Having registered your hand gesture, a Low Energy Bluetooth signal is sent to the Bixi app on your smartphone, which reads the signal before sending the appropriate command to the paired device (either through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth).

Hand movements can be detected up to 25cm in front of itself, so you don’t need to be incredibly close to it. We also found pairing to be a doddle – simply tap Pair, select your profile, and hit Sync. That’s all.

As for the battery, according to the makers it will go for between three weeks to two months if always connected.

With crowdfunding come plenty of risks. Unlike buying an item from Amazon, backing a project is instead providing financial assistance to the team behind the item.

In plenty of cases, everything goes smoothly and backers get their final product, but there are no guarantees, so be sure to consult the Kickstarter Backer FAQ if you’re unsure about it all.

Common roadblocks found by companies operating on Kickstarter are production issues, and supply shortages, but the Bixi team say they’re on target to deliver their first pre-series units – and on time too. Let’s hope things stay this way.

Bixi expect pre-series units to ship out by January, with early bird backers only receiving theirs by March.

Yes, Fibaro Home Intelligence, Myo, and Leap Motion all do a very similar job, but Bixi brings outdoor-robustness, ultra-portability, built-in gesture processing, and still sounds simple enough to use.

With early birds starting at $79 (£63), it’s also a rather affordable option too.