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This new gesture interface is the first to rely on an electric field rather than cameras.

The low-power chip makes it possible to interact with mobile devices and a host of other consumer electronics using hand gesture recognition, which today is usually accomplished with camera-based sensors. A key limitation is that it only recognizes motions, such as a hand flick or circular movement, within a six-inch range. Microsoft’s Kinect made 3-D gesture recognition popular for game consoles, for example. But while creative uses of the Kinect have proliferated, the concept hasn’t become mainstream in desktops, laptops, or mobile devices quite yet.

The controller works by transmitting an electrical signal and then calculating the three-coordinate position of a hand based on the disturbances to the field the hand creates. Whereas many camera systems have “blind spots” for close-up hand gestures and can fail in low light, the Microchip controller works well under these conditions and doesn’t require an external sensor (its sensing electrodes can sit behind a device’s housing).

Perhaps most interesting, the controller could easily go into electronics that don’t have a camera, including car dashboards, keyboards, light switches, or a music docking station. In fact, Microchip Technology already sells components to 70,000 customers that make these products

The precision is about the same as using a mouse, but the system has limitations. It can’t yet distinguish between, say, an open hand and a closed fist, or simultaneous movements of different fingers, an area the company wants to improve.

 

Source:MIT

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