On April 1st among a number of pranks, Google announced Gmail Motion Beta. The software allegedly implemented a patented spatial tracking technology that detects your body movements through your webcam. To further the joke, Google made the Gmail Motion gestures about as ridiculous as possible; including one where you lick your hand and slap it on your knee. It all was fun and games, until University of Southern California student, Evan Suma, replied with a copy-cat Microsoft Kinect hack that made Gmail Motion a reality.
The original Gmail Motion prank video is pasted below. Keep an eye out for the enthusiastic gesture demonstrator!
Within hours on the USCICT YouTube channel, Evan A. Suma and his software development team replied with a video. In the video they demonstrated their FAAST (Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit) software that works with the Microsoft Kinect. They were able to tweak their software to match gestures provided in the Google prank video, and created a real, working version of Gmail Motion.
Don’t believe it’s real? You don’t have to take our word for it. If you have a Kinect hooked up to your computer, you can downoad the FAAST software and try it out for yourself. The USC ICT team has made it available for free here.