The Computer that Reads Hand Signals

A PlayStation 3 transplant turns this PC into a multimedia powerhouse

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You don’t have to fumble with a remote control to pause a video on Toshiba’s Qosmio G55-Q802. Simply hold your palm up in the universal “stop” sign.

The laptop reads this and other hand signals instantly using the Cell, the supercomputer chip best known for powering the PlayStation 3. An Intel CPU performs most of the tasks on the G55, but a special version of the Cell tackles complex video-manipulation jobs by breaking them into bite-size chunks and parceling them out to four processors on the chip.

The Cell also lets the computer scan videos and index every new face it finds. So instead of blindly fast-forwarding, you can just click a thumbnail to jump to the part where someone appears.

The G55 is the first PC with a Cell, and software that takes advantage of the chip is limited. Along with Toshiba’s hand-gesture and video-indexing applications, the laptop comes with ultrafast Cell-enabled versions of Microsoft’s PowerPoint and Corel’s Ulead video-editing program.