Opera Face Gestures
Want to reload the page? Just shake your head. (Credit: Opera Software)

Speed has been the heat behind the desktop browser battle, and not much else. On Wednesday, Opera Software decided to throw an innovative curve ball by introducing a feature into the version 10 alpha of the Opera browser that lets you surf the Web by flaring your nostrils. They call it Opera Face Gestures.

If you've got a Webcam and a working F8 key, you'll be able to open new browser tabs, navigate around, and even compose an e-mail using one of 45 different facial gestures, like puffing out your cheeks to zoom out, or craning your neck to scroll up or down. Try it with us now.

Though it's Opera's idea of an April Fool's joke, the face gestures concept is one of those kooky, geeky-cool experiments you just might find cropping up in MIT's Lab, or in a futuristic sci-fi flick a la "Minority Report." But when we thought about it, we realized there is some precedent in the software world, and some hypothetically practical application.

Microsoft has scratched at the idea of taking Webcams beyond their voyeuristic tendencies in Windows Live Messenger beta, which can beam out images you prerecorded with your Webcam of various moods when you type certain emoticons. And for people with severe physical limitations or disabilities, an alternate browsing mechanism could wield liberating browsing powers (we bet you didn't think of that one, Opera.)

But before we ruin all the yuks with our altruistic turn on a good joke, check out Opera's hilarious demo video to see just what it would take to navigate a Web page with your eyes. Wink, wink.

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.