Google wins with Gmail Motion prank

Faith Merino · April 1, 2011 · Short URL:

The company comes up with the next wave of intuitive communication: movement!

So far there have been a lot of noteworthy April Fools' jokes, but the prize for the most elaborate and best executed goes to Google for Gmail Motion. 

In an introductory video, Gmail product manager Paul McDonald outlines Gmail Motion, an imaginary application that takes the concept behind Google Instant to the next level: now you can write emails using gestures. The keyboard and mouse? Outdated technology. The application promises to replace type altogether and turn email writing into a simple series of waves and gesticulations. 

When I say the prank is elaborate, I mean it's elaborate. Along with the overview from Paul McDonald, the mock application home page features commentary from the Gmail Motion Scientific Advisor Dennis Tooley, Ph.D., from the "California Center for Kinesics and Paralanguage," (It took me a while to figure out that there is no such center) who talks about how fun it was coming up with the original gestures: "like those little emoticons...the little things you put in to make smiley faces. Now you just do them yourself." Dude is so deadpan that if I had seen this video and nothing else, I would've bought the whole thing, hook line and sinker. 

Also adding some commentary to the mockumentary-style prank was fellow Gmail Motion Scientific Advisor, Lorraine Klayman, M.Sc., an environmental movement specialist from the Nevada Polytechnic College (also not real, in case you were wondering). "Our bodies did not evolve to sit at a desk in a rigid position," she explains. "Our fingers were not designed to move independently. We are graspers! We're killers!" 

So how does it work? Simple. Using your computer webcam and a "spatial tracking algorithm," Gmail Motion drafts emails according to your movements. To open a message, you make a motion with your hands as if you're opening an envelope. To reply, point backward over your shoulder with your thumb. To reply all, point backward with both thumbs. 

Google does note that some safety precautions should be observed before using Gmail Motion. For starters, users should clear about 4 feet of space around them. Additionally, they should take breaks every 30-40 minutes. 

Even better, Google announced that Google Docs Motion is coming out later this year. The full effect can only be experienced by going here

Google's always good for a laugh on April Fools' Day. As some may recall, last year the company said it was changing its name to Topeka as a play on the city's fake name-change to Google in an effort to get Google to select it as a test site for its new fiber-optic network. Additionally, the company dropped all of the vowels from Gmail's home page. Rock on, Google.

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