Microsoft Research creates low-cost, transparent sensor for 3D hand and finger tracking
Microsoft Research has published a project on its website for a low-cost electric field sensing concept. This allows for a transparent and thin receiver to detect 3D finger and hand tracking, combined with in-air gestures on mobile handsets. It's a cool implementation, which can be utilized in a compact form factor that is resilient to ambient illumination.
Everything designed by the team has been possible thanks to off-the-shelf chips that eliminate the requirement to develop custom electronics to achieve similar results. As well as the physical electronics, Microsoft Research has also presented a learning algorithm for mapping from signal measurements at the receivers to 3D positions. Check the video for a visual walkthrough.
So why is this concept better than similar implementations? There's the low-cost factor, as well as resilience to ambient light and the fact Microsoft can perform everything in a more compact form factor. Then you have high frame rate sensing (at around 200hz) and low power consumption. Microsoft is also working on gestures and keyboards.
Remember when we joked about Jedi hand gestures and Windows Phone with the Glance screen? The force is strong with this one.
Source: Microsoft Research
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
I would love to be able to have gestures for things like the charms menu, scrolling, rotating, etc on my computer without having to actually touch the screen. Maybe they can add kinnect-like gestures for play/pause/next/etc as well? This would also be handy for laptop users stuck on poorly designed trackpads that constantly get gestures like scrolling mixed up with normal mouse navigation. They could have a very simple but reliable touchpad mouse, and then do gestures in front of the screen instead of touching it. The thing about phone though is that there is no avoiding touching the screen, and modern displays are much better than a touchpad when it comes to supporting gestures and direct input commands like 'clicking'. For the phone it addresses a problem that really does not exist... but on a desktop or laptop this would be very useful.