On April Fools Day, Google, known as one of the most consumer friendly corporations out there, put out its annual prank: Gmail Motion. The video involved using ridiculous motions to form your e-mail. With motion based technology sweeping the technological world, it only seemed natural that Google would pull a prank like that, leaving a link to the video all day in your Gmail window. It was a ridiculous idea that pretty much nobody would believe. There was no way that could be real. Except it is.
Now it's not actual Gmail motion or even from Google. The University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies watched the video and wondered why it couldn't actually be done. Using a sensor from the Microsoft Xbox 360's Kinect peripheral, they've created something akin to Gmail Motion.
The project, named the Software Library Optimizing Obligatory Waving, or SLOOW, places the activity and technology firmly in the "just because" category. This technology isn't going to become readily available barring some kind of act of God, but it does in fact exist and Gmail Motion could one day, believe it or not, become a reality.
Not so ironically the name is based on the Mixed Reality Group used to create it: the Flexible Action and Articulated Skeleton Toolkit, or FAAST. Ha.
But in the video itself, which you can view at the end of this post, the motions exhibited in the Gmail Motion video that made the rounds on Friday are mimicked. The way they send an email is to pretend as if you're licking a stamp and subsequently place it on a letter. Yeah this isn't exactly a serious video. They even crack up at the end.
One day I guess this technology could be available to a wide range of consumers but with the technology we have now it's just not feasible. That's why it was an April Fools Day joke nobody bought to begin with. But thanks to this project, we can one day see it as a reality. Maybe.