Google buys Flutter to beef up its gesture recognition skills

Google (s GOOG) has bought San Francisco-based gesture recognition startup Flutter in an apparent attempt to get better at gesture recognition. The acquisition, which was first reported by The Next Web, was confirmed on Flutter’s home page Wednesday afternoon with a post that read in part:

“Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our research at Google. We share Google’s passion for 10x thinking, and we’re excited to add their rocket fuel to our journey.”

Google also confirmed the acquisition, with a spokesperson sending us the following statement:

“We’re really impressed by the Flutter team’s ability to design new technology based on cutting-edge research. We look forward to supporting and collaborating on their research efforts at Google.”

There’s no word yet on financial details of the acquisition, but we’ve heard that Flutter’s entire team of six employees, which includes four PhD’s with some impressive image and gesture recognition skills, will join Google in Mountain View. For some of them, this is a bit of a homecoming: Flutter co-founders Mehul Nariyawala and Navneet Dalal both worked at Google after the company acquired their previous startup in 2010.

Flutter is best known for an app that allowed users to control media playback with simple gestures captured by their computer’s webcam, but the company had a lot more ambitious goals, and some interesting take on the state of gesture recognition. A year ago, I wrote this about Flutter:

“Gestures are just a first step. The duo showed me a few first technical demos of Flutter running on the iPhone, only to bring up an important point: Raising your hand in front of your computer is not a big deal. But gestures on the phone, while you’re in the subway? Pretty silly, and also hard to read for the phone, since your hand is likely far too close to the camera. “In mobile, facial expressions are more accurate,” explained Dalal.

The bigger vision is to give machines eyes, and make them aware of their users, he added. Why wouldn’t a computer automatically lock its screen once you move away from your desk, he asked? And why shouldn’t your phone recognize whether you’re smiling or having a bad day?”

For more on Flutter, check out my entire story: How Flutter wants to become the eye of the machine

And here’s a demo video of Flutter: