Thursday, February 18, 2010

3D Gesture-Recognition Technology: I Remember When the Clapper Was New

"Television Will Soon Watch You (for Instructions)"
Epicenter, Wired (February 17, 2010)

"The days of rifling through couch cushions for a television remote could be coming to an end, as 3-D gesture-recognition technology finds its way into set-top boxes following a deal between Intel and Softkinetic-Optrima scheduled to be announced on Thursday.

"Like a hyperevolved descendant of The Clapper, the devices will let television viewers navigate menus and control volume by moving their arms in a predefined patterns.

"Gesture recognition technology — previously somewhat arcane — gathered momentum last year when Microsoft demoed its Project Natal to enormous acclaim. Natal applies similar technology to hard-core gaming on the Xbox, letting users play fighting games by actually punching and kicking in the air, using technology from Microsoft’s acquisition of Israel-based gesture-recognition company 3DV.

"In addition to a partnership with EA Sports for games, Softkinetic-Optrima plans to apply gesture recognition to the lean-back television experience, allowing people to turn up the volume by moving their hand in a circle, switch the channel by swiping to the right, pause by extending their hands in a 'stop' gesture, and so on...."

This is a remarkable piece of technology, and probably shows what my grandchildren will think is a perfectly normal way to control devices.

The article tells how this 3-D gesture-recognition tech works - in general. You wouldn't be able to build a unit from what's given here. And, there's a pretty good close-up photo of the thing: although you'll have to guess how big it is, based on the assumption that the tripod it's mounted on is of average size.

Aside from the obvious applications as a next-generation television remote control and game interface, it occurs to me that this gesture-recognition technology could be used in 'smart' robots. Ones that don't just understand the words we say, but are able to tell how we feel about what we're saying.

Which I see as an exciting development.

Of course, a media center that can tell what you're feeling might not be an entirely good thing. Remember this, from a 1968 movie?

"Just what do you think you are doing, Dave?... Look Dave, I can see you are really upset about this...."

Related posts?For my take on 'the future,' check out:

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