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First prototype of a desk fan that can be controlled by hand gestures instead of a switch around the back.
With many fans you have to reach around the back to turn them on and off. Using a simple infrared sensor this fan can be turned on and the airflow adjusted by pushing or pulling at the air.

In the middle of the fan is a sharp infrared sensor. Some string is tied to the grill so air movement can be seen in a video.

Warning - This sounds super annoying. The motor driver creates all kinds of horrible resonance in the all metal fan so turn the sound down if you don't like the sound of fingers down a chalk board. A smaller plastic fan and either faster or slower PWM frequency for the motor driver would be better but this is a first go.

The fan is controlled using a pololu a-star micro, MAX14870 single motor driver and a Sharp Analog IR Distance Sensor GP2Y0A41SK0F.
A simple Arduino program is used to recognise the movement of an object in front of the sensor and control the motor. See the attached file.