Back in September 2023, Apple unveiled a bunch of new Apple Watch models with an intriguing new feature called ’double tap’ that let you control your wearable with just a pinch of your fingers. Now, there’s a new rival to Apple’s control system at CES 2024 – and it goes way further than anything the Cupertino giant dreamed up.
Called the Mudra Band, it’s essentially an Apple Watch strap that interprets your hand gestures and translates them into device controls. In other words, you can control your Apple products by just waving your hand or flicking your fingers, a system the maker calls Air-Touch.
That alone gives you a lot more power than Apple’s simple double tap system, which is limited to tapping your index finger and thumb together twice. But the Mudra Band actually goes further, as it also works with all the best iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TV devices. It allows you to navigate through all of these products without ever having to touch the screen.
Switching between the devices you’re controlling is as simple as tapping a control on your Watch, while you can tweak the sensitivity, mouse movement speed and more to ensure it works for you. It seems that there’s a lot you can do.
Will it catch on?
That all sounds interesting, but it raises a thorny question: would you actually use all these gesture controls? People already know how to use these devices with their fingers or with a mouse and keyboard – will they change that to use gestures instead?
In the Mudra Band’s demo videos, controlling an Apple TV looks somewhat slow and sluggish. No matter which device you use the band with, it will take some getting used to before you can use it fluently.
But perhaps it will turn out to be a breakout success. After all, when we first tested the Apple Watch’s double tap feature, we were blown away by how well it worked. Meanwhile, our Apple Watch Series 9 review called it a “delight” and an “obvious standout” feature of the device, so the Mudra Band might be able to elicit similar responses when it reaches users.
Speaking of which, the Mudra Band is available to buy now for $349 (around £279 / AU$520) and comes in two sizes. It will be interesting to see if it catches on – and whether it prompts Apple to expand its own double tap system.
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Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.