Talking tech since 2003

It’s a given that just about every smartphone you can buy has a camera stuck on it somewhere. In fact, most smartphones have front-facing cameras so users can take those ever-important selfies. But a new app called BrainWave from OTGPlatforms has found a new use for that otherwise underutilized front-facing camera: gesture controls for listening to music.

Available on the Google Play Store, BrainWave syncs with the various third-party music apps you might have on your smartphone, including Google Play Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeart, and Beats. Once you’ve selected your music player, BrainWave is ready to give users touchless control over a few basic functions. The coolest part is that it actually works. Most of the time.

As of now, BrainWave gives users access to three gestures: a forward wave, a backward wave, and a simple raise of the right hand. From there, based on what’s happening on the player, users can start or pause music playback, skip to the next song, restart the current song, or skip back to the previous track. Even cooler is the fact that BrainWave works whether the phone is on or in sleep mode, meaning you won’t have to wake it to use it.

Based on my extremely limited time with the app, I have found that it doesn’t work all the time. I’m still trying to figure out the right distance my hand has to be from the camera to adequately trigger the gesture controls. It seems that further away from the phone’s camera is better to get it to work. At one point, I tried adjusting the volume on my phone and accidentally made it skip tracks – so it’s still not quite perfect. I would imagine, too, that its performance might vary based on the quality of the front-facing camera you’re using. The new HTC Desire Eye – with a 13 megapixel front camera, might work perfectly. My Nexus 5’s front camera seems a little hinky, though.

It’d be nice if BrainWave featured integration of podcast apps added to the list of compatible audio software. However, updates are on the way. Apparently volume controls will find its way into a forthcoming version of BrainWave, along with the ability to like or dislike songs – I imagine a thumbs up or down will get that job done. OTGPlatforms also says that a car mode will be included soon, along with an iOS version of the app.

Overall, BrainWave is a pretty cool addition to your smartphone’s app library. It’s not necessary, but being able to start, stop, and skip songs while you’re driving without taking your eyes off the road is a pretty huge benefit that every smartphone-using audiophile should check out.

[BrainWave on Google Play]

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