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Wave Control Pro: Smartphone Wizardry Worthy of Obi-Wan

By Patrick Nelson LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Nov 30, 2012 5:00 AM PT

Wave Control Pro: Smartphone Wizardry Worthy of Obi-Wan

Wave Control Pro, an app from MarksThinkTank, is available for US$2.99 at Google Play. wave control pro

It's the holidays, and if your Android smartphone is feeling a bit neglected, I've got the perfect gift for it. Forget automating your life with remote-controlled garage door openers, motorized big-screen TV mounts, and electrically driven drapes -- that's all so last-century.

Controlling your phone with a wave of your hand is where it's at this holiday, in my opinion. Get the kids a Furby, Wii-U, Lego's Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle or whatever, and get yourself touch-less media control. It's hours of fun.

About the App

Wave Control Pro uses the Android smartphone's proximity sensor to let you control a phone by waving your palm over it. Settings for many media apps -- like Slacker, Winamp, Spotify and Pandora -- are pre- installed.

Actions are simple. Patiently hovering your hand over the sensor -- usually located at the top of the phone -- pauses or resumes the track. One dismissive wave over the phone advances the media to the next song. A double wave starts the previous track, and a demonstrative three waves enables or disables the controls.

I found Wave Control worked well with subscription-based music service Spotify on a Motorola Photon 4G smartphone and streaming radio Pandora on a Samsung Galaxy Y, but not at all on my Toshiba Thrive tablet. Nothing worked in that case. However, the publisher is looking for tablet-user beta testers, so maybe this will be corrected in due course.

Enabling the App

The publisher is clear that you need to enable headset control within the media app that you're using -- it's the headset functions that are used to control the media. He also explains that moving your hand too fast when hovering will create a mis-read and be interpreted as a wave. I found that each wave or hover action requires about a second.

I also found that I quickly got the hang of waving -- after a while correcting earlier inadvertent mixed-messages that I had sent -- and became a Wave Control expert. There's a test mode within settings that you can use to play around with your technique. I recommend doing so, partly because it allows you to figure out the sensor location.

Worth the Price

I chose the paid Wave Control Pro version rather than the free edition, because in addition to not having ads, the Pro version has more commands.

For example, you can assign waves to different actions, like screen turn-on. You can launch Google Voice Search, volume up and down, and so on.

With all the hand waving and media starts and stops, I felt like a cross between a sorcerer and a monarch dismissing a commoner. But surprisingly the app did work -- and work well.

Nice Bonuses

One side-benefit I obtained was a non-smeared screen. The waving and non-touching of phone, in addition to the seductive sorcerer power trip, keeps the device finger-mark free.

In fact, keeping a pristine screen and waving while driving are two splendid purposes for getting this app. Operating fiddly on-phone buttons while driving presents obvious safety concerns, and I don't know about you, but my screen is always finger-marked.

I found that leaving the phone in an after-market cradle, or even lying on the dash and then performing a hover or wave to stop the music or advance songs works well in the car.

The publisher reckons his app would also be good for cooking -- control the music with hands covered in dough -- or while cleaning, eating or working out. I agree with him. I'm looking forward to trying this next time I'm stuffing my face with street-vendor food or elsewhere when napkins are rationed.

More seriously, though, the call functions -- letting you pick up a call without touching the phone -- have implications across verticals, not least in the medical field.

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

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How do you feel about accidents that occur when self-driving vehicles are being tested?
Self-driving vehicles should be banned -- one death is one too many.
Autonomous vehicles could save thousands of lives -- the tests should continue.
Companies with bad safety records should have to stop testing.
Accidents happen -- we should investigate and learn from them.
The tests are pointless -- most people will never trust software and sensors.
Most injuries and fatalities in self-driving auto tests are due to human error.