Evolution has given human race the gift of bipedal anatomy (ability to walk on two legs) and ultimately hands free to perform many tasks. Same aspect separate us from other species on road of material, social and communication development. While communicating, we can control the flow of exchange, emphasize, divert to or draw attention at or demonstrate something by hands.
Apart of spoken words, gestures, signs, metaphoric or actual symbols generated by hands play very significant role in communication to make it more visually acknowledgeable, clear, and interesting. Brain is more attuned to remember and interpret visual clues than words.
Very wonderful thing to know is that some people cannot communicate verbally without gesturing. For example, it’s proverbial truth that you can make Italian man silent just by tying his hand on his back. You can watch an interesting video that explains origin and meaning of different Italian gestures. Many of these gestures are global. Nice work by Mr. Carlo Anurucci**!
Moreover, words and especially symbolic gestures are alike. According to recent study done by fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning of brain, words and gestures are processed by same areas inside it. Development of sign or code languages for verbally disabled people is very good example of adherence of verbal and nonverbal aspects of communication.
Gestures are also important while learning or teaching foreign languages, complex ideas, views or theories. It has been found that person making or mimicking gestures is more likely to master complexities and can learn new skills faster than person who doesn't.
Intel's' new gesture recognition technology allows you to control devices by making simple hand gestures like turning knob by fingers to increase or decrease the volume of your TV or waving a palm to receive an incoming phone call on cell phone.
Discovering and meeting enormous potential of gesture recognition and their interaction with various objects has been transformed into SixthSense Technology by a young Indian scientist Dr. Pranav Mistry at MIT Media Lab (Massachusetts, USA). It's definitely going to change the world to come.
[**Mr. Carlo is retired construction professional who has published several videos on Italian sign language and gestures on YouTube.]