LG brings back Air Gestures with the LG G8, but are we ready for the future?

by Nicole on February 25, 2019

We’ve seen gestures before on Smartphones in 2013 Samsung released Air Gestures on the Galaxy S4, but it just used a regular camera and the hand actions were exaggerated and slow to respond. But in 2019 we might just be ready for gestures on a smartphone. Google assistant has gotten used to controlling devices with our voice, so the world might just be ready for gestures. LG thinks so and introduced touchless ID on the LG G8.

Technology has improved since Samsung tried to implement this 6 years ago. LG has a Time of flight sensor which uses a transmitting and receiving sensor. The sensor enables Palm vein authentification, which is the first for a smartphone, it uses the unique vein pattern in your hand to unlock the phone. Face unlock is even more secure, and Air motion lets you control music playback, the air gestures are registered by apps just like the controls on a Bluetooth headset, so they’ll work with most players. You can answer or dismiss calls, snooze alarms turn off timers and capture screenshots.

The LG G8 ThinQ houses a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 1440×3120 pixels and a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. It’s a departure from the bright LCD panels LG used to put in the G-series flagships, but the OLED panel on the G8, LG claims can deliver 600 nits of brightness. It’s also HDR10 certified like last time. Notably, the LG G8 ThinQ also offers what it calls Crystal Sound OLED (CSO) which uses the screen as a sound amplifier. The display has tiny actuators that make the panel vibrate to produce sound. LG claims this, along with the boombox speaker combine to provide stereo sound. The phone is powered by a 3,500mAh battery.

There’s 6GB of RAM alongside the Snapdragon 855 and will be available in 128GB storage along with support for memory expansion up to 2TB. Furthermore, there’s a 2-channel audio setup, DTS: X 3D Surround Sound and even the Hi-Fi DAC that was there on the predecessor.

On the back, the LG G8 ThinQ has two cameras — A 16MP primary camera with a 107-degree field-of-view along with a 12MP secondary sensor with a more standard field of view. The camera offers a video portrait mode for the first time

Built by LG’s Innotek division, it reflects infrared light off of a subject, measures how long it takes to return and uses the data to calculate depth. LG said that the tech works over “long” distances, while consuming less power than other 3D tech. As such, it’s suitable for face detection ID tech, motion sensing, AR, and more.

It differs from Apple’s TrueDepth Face ID tech, which beams thousands of laser dots at a subject, then measures the distortion to calculate depth. Time of Flight, by contrast, measures distances like radar, and is similar to what Microsoft used in its Xbox One Kinect. It can, in theory, deliver more accurate results for biometric scans, augmented reality and more.

Placing TOF on the front means that the G8 is able to see its user in 3D space and allows some pretty wild new interactions – the most basic of which is a form of gesture control that LG’s calling Air Motion. You can use gestures to launch particular apps, turn a virtual knob to adjust the G8’s volume output, take screenshots and more.

The TOF sensor also has applications in biometric security, as it’s able to perform vein detection in your hand as it approaches the device – Hand ID. As icky as vein detection sounds, it’s actually pretty useful in securing your phone – LG says only 1 in 1 billion people will have the same vein pattern as you. It can apply the same capabilities to face unlock as well.

Using the Air Gestures you can move your hand left or right to open up various apps (which can be customized as you like in settings), twist your hand to adjust volume, or you can even skip tracks or play the next video when listing to music or watching YouTube.

Just watching others try to figure our Air Motion is its own kind of entertainment, but the real purpose of Air Motion is for situations like when you’re washing the dishes, and don’t want to completely stop what you’re doing or get soap suds all over the screen just to answer. And while it feels kind of ridiculous when you’re using Air Motions, given an open mind, you can see that there’s potential too.

We’re excited for the future where we unlock our phones with our palms and wave our hands around like it’s the minority report. Samsung might have been too early with inferior technology. Timing is everything and they might have gotten it right with Air gestures on the G8.