Gesture control for your TV

Frederick Vandenbosch has been at it again. This time, inspired by watching his kids use tablet devices, he’s built a gesture control device for his TV, which manages to be both functional and very elegant.


At the core of this device is a Model A Raspberry Pi, and a Pimoroni Skywriter HAT. The Skywriter is a near-field electrical sensor that can detect 3d movements and gestures as well as swipes and taps – it’s one of my favourite HATs on the market at the moment (I have one which I’ve mostly been playing with in music projects). Here’s a naked Skywriter, doing its thing. Do the clickety thing with the audio button.

One of the great things about this particular HAT is that it still works if you hide it from sight under a sheet of something non-conductive – which is exactly what Frederick’s doing in this build. It’s always a real pleasure to see projects with this level of finish; this (non-conductive) case is just some simply sanded and polished ply, but it looks fantastic and wouldn’t be out of place on the coffee table next to your sofa. (We also applaud the choice of very handsome USB cable that Frederick’s using to supply power. Little things can make all the difference.)

gesture box

This gesture controller talks to the TV using LIRC (Linux Infra-red Control); Frederick’s built an IR led to transmit, and an IR receiver, into the box; that’s what those two little holes in the front are for.

Here’s a video guiding you through the build.

Being Frederick (we’ve featured one of his meticulous projects here before), he’s documented the whole build minutely, so you’ll find it a doddle to make your own. Head over to his website for full instructions and code; and let us know if you build one of these for yourself!


AndrewS avatar

I guess this would also be useful for people with reduced mobility, who find the buttons on normal TV-remotes too fiddly?
Embedding it directly into the arm of the sofa (making it ‘invisible’) would be pretty cool ;-)

Liz Upton avatar

I DO like the sofa-arm idea.

Frederick avatar

That would totally work. Just make sure nobody steals your spot and claims control of the TV! :)

Steve Foster avatar

At least you would never lose the remote if it was embedded inside a sofa arm. Great project.

Victoria Mitchell avatar

You can put one in every arm and simply have a gesture that flips control from one bit to the other?

Alan Mc (Irish Framboise) avatar

Frederick, you’re just everywhere ! Genius.

Another great project, you just forgot to add the “Giant Red Button” ;o) that’s all that’s missing for the perfect setup.

Dougie avatar

Has it got the required (but exceedingly annoying) blue LED?

Frederick avatar

Not *everywhere*, but it’s great when some projects get picked up like this :D

Have you already used your own big red button ?? ;)

Alex Enkerli avatar

Really nifty and impressive! He makes it sound so easy and natural.

More interested in the musical applications of the Skywriter HAT, though. Had seen several references to that HAT, but it’s the first time it makes sense to me… and gives me musical ideas. Liz, do you have example code that you use for your musical experiments?

Will be doing a @ClubFramboise workshop on sound, including Sam Aaron’s amazing Sonic Pi. Have yet to find ways to connect GPIO or HAT sensors to that, but people are clamouring for just such a thing. If there’s a PiMusic group somewhere, count me in!

Alex Enkerli avatar

Oh! With Puredata! That makes sense.
Just ordered one. Hope it’ll get to Ottawa in time for a couple of tests before the workshop.

Will also try the HAT with Pyo and, eventually, Sonic Pi.

Thanks (as always) for the inspiration.

Clinton Morse avatar

Will have to look closer at this. Could be pretty useful for an interactive kiosk application – swipe to select pages, then a tap on box to start/stop audio/video/slideshow etc..

Steve Foster avatar

Yep. I was thinking the same. Set up a monitor behind glass to display information which can be browsed via a Skywriter, which is also inside.

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