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Public places often have automatic faucets that turn on when you stick your hands under. That's convenient, but you can only have a fixed preset temperature. The idea is to replace the motion sensor on the faucet with a camera and image processor. By moving your hands under the faucet in a pattern you
can adjust the temperature. The standard motions are still to be determined, pulling out your hands real fast would probably mean "way too hot".
There will be a learning curve but once this system is in common use nobody should have a problem. It will be common gestures like nodding for "yes" and shaking your head sideways for "no". With the spread of automatic faucets into residential bathrooms even little kids will learn them.
||An IR transceiver could tell how close your hands are to some point of the sink.
Maybe you bring your hands up (closer to the faucet) if you want the water warmer. Or maybe it's how close your hands are to the back of the sink.
||I like this one, maybe just IR sensors on each side to adjust the levels of hot or cold water (essentially phoenix's idea with two sensors).
||You could use two infrared sensors pointing upwards at the locations of the absent hot and cold faucet heads. Simply wave your hand over the cold side for cold. Use a tapping motion over the hot sensor for progressively warmer water.