Reality is catching up with Google's annual April Fools' joke. In this year's installment, users can enjoy motion control of their e-mail in the "new" Gmail Motion. Given a recent report that the software giant is about to release an app that allows you to retrieve information via facial recognition, and the flood of innovations made possible by Microsoft's Kinect motion controller, this year's joke doesn't seem so far-fetched.
A link on the company's famous search page leads to a Gmail Motion screen, which features a video demonstration by a Google employee, bullet points, and a diagram of how it works.
Coming To Google Docs
"Gmail Motion uses your computer's webcam and Google's patented spatial-tracking technology to detect your movements and translate them into meaningful characters and commands," the Gmail Motion page says with a straight face.
Then there are the stylized movements that Google's "semiotic experts" have devised. "Reply" is one thumb pointing backward over your shoulder. "Reply all" is both thumbs over both shoulders.
From there, the motion commands resemble a stewardess' gone-wild routine in the movie Airplane! "Report spam" requires two pleading, outstretched hands and bent knees. To "go to inbox," the user stands and leans over to the left. The opposite lean indicates "mark as unread," and "compose" resembles a cop directing traffic.
Ever-mindful of lawsuits, the instructions include "safety precautions" to take breaks every 30-40 minutes, stretch after each e-mailing session, and "clear the area around you."
And, in a preview of either possible new products or future April Fools' jokes, the announcement notes that the motion-control technology is coming to Google Docs. Break dancing will trigger drawing, raising books above your head means "upload," and posing with two friends will generate a three-part pie chart.
Michael Gartenberg, research director at the Gartner Group, suggested that, with Gmail Motion, "sometimes this year's April Fools' joke can become next year's actual product."
Too Much Time
Someone at Google has way too much time on their hands. Gmail Motion is also accompanied by several other jokes for the day, including the addition of Elmer Fudd and the Muppets' "Bork, Bork, Bork" to the list of languages that Google supports, and a help-wanted ad for an "autocompleter" to type in predictions to be used in real time with the autocomplete function for the search engine. There's also Chromercise.com, a Richard Simmons-like video and program to keep your fingers in shape by energetically using the company's browser.
While this year's joke may be closer to possibility than normal, all of Google's annual pranks have an air of reality -- as do all good April Fools' jokes. Last year, the company announced that it had "officially changed our name to Topeka" in honor of a town in Kansas that temporarily changed its name to Google.
Previous years' jokes have included the MentalPlex search-by-mind-reading technology, the PigeonRank system behind Google's famed PageRank system, and Google Gulp, a drink that could raise the drinker's intelligence. There have also been Google Romance and the launch of the Contextual Date, the Google TiSP or Toilet Internet Service Provider, Google Book Search scratch and sniff, Custom Time to "pre-date" messages that are sent to the past, and Google Translate for Animals.
Ironically, the real launch of Gmail on April 1, 2004, led many people to think they were being punked. But the future may yet change. Groupon's April Fools' joke this year is an announcement that it has filed a patent application and trademark for April Fools' Day.
Not a closed minded troll:
Posted: 2011-04-01 @ 12:45pm PT
Yes, innovation by Microsofts Kinect. Really.
Posted: 2011-04-01 @ 11:41am PT
I's rather have voice control. The boss will put me behind bars waving my hands like a nut cake.
MS is done:
Posted: 2011-04-01 @ 11:03am PT
innovations by Microsoft kinect - innovations??? really??? LOL!