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A new approach to interact with an industrial robot using hand gestures is presented. System proposed here can learn a first time userpsilas hand gestures rapidly. This improves product usability and acceptability. Artificial neural networks trained with the evolution strategy technique are found to be suited for this problem. The gesture recognition system is an integrated part of a larger project for addressing intelligent human-robot interaction using a novel multi-modal paradigm. The goal of the overall project is to address complexity issues related to robot programming by providing a multi-modal user friendly interacting system that can be used by SMEs.