Forget the TV remote and the games controller, now you can control anything from your mobile phone to the television with just a wave of your hand.
Researchers at Newcastle University and Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSR) have developed a sensor the size of a wrist-watch which tracks the 3-D movement of the hand and allows the user to remotely control any device.
Mapping finger movement and orientation, it gives the user remote control anytime, anywhere – even allowing you to answer your phone while it’s still in your pocket and you’re walking down the street… watch video on our YouTube channel
Being presented this week at the 25th Association for Computing Machinery Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, ‘Digits’ allows for the first time 3-D interactions without being tied to any external hardware.
It has been developed by David Kim, a MSR funded PhD from Newcastle University’s Culture Lab; Otmar Hilliges, Shahram Izadi, Alex Butler, and Jiawen Chen of MSR Cambridge; Iason Oikonomidis of Greece’s Foundation for Research & Technology; and Professor Patrick Olivier of Newcastle University’s Culture Lab.
“The Digits sensor doesn’t rely on any external infrastructure so it is completely mobile,” explains David Kim, a PhD student at Newcastle University.
“This means users are not bound to a fixed space. They can interact while moving from room to room or even running down the street. What Digits does is finally take 3-D interaction outside the living room.”
To enable ubiquitous 3-D spatial interaction anywhere, Digits had to be lightweight, consume little power, and have the potential to be as small and comfortable as a watch. At the same time, Digits had to deliver superior gesture sensing and “understand” the human hand, from wrist orientation to the angle of each finger joint, so that interaction would not be limited to 3-D points in space. Digits had to understand what the hand is trying to express—even while inside a pocket.
David adds: “We needed a system that enabled natural 3-D interactions with bare hands, but with as much flexibility and accuracy as data gloves.”
The current prototype, which is being showcased at the prestigious ACM UIST 2012 conference today, includes an infrared camera, IR laser line generator, IR diffuse illuminator, and an inertial-measurement unit (IMU) track.
David says: “We wanted users to be able to interact spontaneously with their electronic devices using simple gestures without even having to reach for them. Can you imagine how much easier it would be if you could answer your mobile phone while it’s still in your pocket or buried at the bottom of your bag?”