QinetiQ -- you may remember them from such fun-filled gadgets as exploding ink and the Millimeter Wave see-it-all-o-vision -- have turned their attention to slightly more mundane endeavors, developing what is effectively a mouse-less mousepad. Dubbed for patenting purposes the "non contact human-computer interface," the system consists of an array of infrared emitters and sensors that work in conjunction to detect the position of a hand moving above them (as artfully illustrated above). While it can be used to control simple cursor movement, the device one-ups the venerable mouse in at least one area, boasting the ability to recognize various gestures to perform more complex tasks -- for instance, moving your hand in a circle to shut down your computer, or flashing a gang sign to open up your favorite website (we're hoping). While there's no word when it might actually be available, QinetiQ says it should be fairly inexpensive, as it relies on the same infrared diodes commonly used in television remotes, and we all know there's no shortages of those.
[Via New Scientist Tech]