Look no hands - the touch-free trackpad

When your hands are too dirty to compute, just wave

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Since the Nintendo Wii first appeared almost two years ago it seems there have been almost daily developments in the field of new types of control devices like the innovative Wiimote.

The latest such technology is a hands-free PC trackpad from Japanese firm Alps Electric that it promises will be useful to someone, somewhere.

Electrical signals

A prototype device shown by Alps this week was able to translate hand gestures a few centimetres above a computer into on-screen results.

The 'minute capacitance sensing technology' detects electrical signals in human skin and determines which way and how fast they are moving.

In the demo, Alps showed how a PC video player could be controlled using circular hand gestures to rewind and fast forward and other motions to play and stop a movie.

Although the company has yet to decide on how to market the device, it suggests it could be of use in jobs where users' hands are too dirty to use a normal computer.