Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 2168
, Published on 22 September 2014
The scene in the movie 'Minority Report' where actor Tom Cruise waves his hands around a huge screen to bring up information on it seemed outrageously futuristic a few years back. However, science has made so much progress that we're now quite close to being able to use such kind of technology in our own homes.
Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, twobee
Gesture recognition technology which enables devices to discern and interpret human movements, and, wearable gadgets ranging from fitness wrist bands to smart glasses are taking the world by storm. Gesture based technology uses cameras or signals as input and identifies human movements using complex spatial processing algorithms. Wearable devices or fashion technology incorporate advanced electronic chips in everyday clothing and accessories thus literally interweaving technology into the very fabric of our being.
Initial forays into gesture control technology began with the Microsoft Kinect and the Nintendo Wii MotionPlus back in 2009. However, this required the purchase of expensive hardware equipment, and its applications were restricted to gaming.
More recently, a company called Leap Motion, Inc. created a small affordable USB device that plugged into your PC or Mac and created a 3D field of 3 feet around it, which allows you to interact with the computer using mere gestures. This device, which is no bigger than a pack of gum, uses cameras to detect the user’s hands and offers precision that devices like the Kinect can’t match. The LEAP Motion controller can differentiate between all ten fingers of your hand and also determine if you are using some other object like a pen, brush or chopsticks to interact.
Image Courtesy: LEAP Motion Official Website
A company called Ractive employs another school of thought which says that sticking out your hands in front of a screen all the time is not sensible and causes fatigue leading to a problem known as Gorilla Arm. Ractive created Touch+, a small economically priced motion tracking sensor bar. It essentially converts any surface into a multi-touch layer. You can clip the device atop your laptop screen and convert your keyboard itself into a touch surface. This would eliminate the need to move your hand between the laptop’s actual touchpad and the keyboard. This could also be useful while playing games as it’d enable you to move around with the mouse while truly having the keyboard shortcuts at your fingertips.
Thalmic Laboratories is another company that has created a sleek gesture controlled arm band called Myo. They have taken a unique approach to gesture technology by using the electrical signals generated in your arm through muscle activity, to identify and understand gestures. When you curl your palm into a fist, you use different muscles; when you point at an object you use another set of muscles, and when you wave your hand, yet another set of muscles are used. This theory has formed the basis for the development of Myo. The technology in this stylish band can detect and differentiate between all these pulses and can manipulate electronics like your computer, or mobile phone and other digital devices actions accordingly.
Image Courtesy: Myo Official Website
Myo foresees going beyond the normal consumer market and being used in industries and medical field. Thalmic Labs has collaborated with Google so that the Myo arm band can be used in tandem with Google Glass to perform gestures on the go. Google Glass is an optical head-mounted display that places many of your smartphone features right in front of your eyes offering hands-free operation. You can interact with Glass using voice commands or by touching the side of the device. But what about people who want to use Glass in a noisy environment, or someone who works using gloves or cannot use their hands to control Glass. This is where the Myo arm band comes in.
The cofounder of the Myo armband, Matthew Bailey says, “We’re literally changing the way that we, as people, interact with the digital world around us. The question we’re exploring is: how can we find more natural ways to merge technology and people? We’re hitting the limits of today’s form factors whether they be personal computers, tablets, or smartphones. We believe wearable computing is the next progression in that evolution.”
Suppose you’re the manager of a construction site. You’re walking around the noisy construction site inspecting the work in progress. You suddenly remember you need to inform your chief engineer about a few structural changes that need to be incorporated, or maybe you just saw something that hasn't been built just right. Now, two quick hand gestures are all you need to call up the engineer. That’s it. No need to pull out your phone and tap at the screen to place a call, or note down those changes somewhere. Alternately, you could quickly snap a picture of the problem area and send it to the engineer with minimum hand gestures. No talking. No touching. No effort. No waste of time and energy.
Healthcare is another segment being targeted heavily for innovations. Google Glass integrated with Myo can enable a doctor can simply pull up and refer to patient data on his Google glass, before and while treating a patient. A few simple swipes, and he can add important details to the patient database, whilst the patient is telling him about his problems. There will be no leafing through and hunting for patient files. The camera can even record the whole session so that the doctor can go back to it if necessary. After all, a paperless world is what we’re moving towards.
Image Courtesy: Myo Official Website
Though this seems like magic, such technology is already being tested and is expected to release in September 2014.
It is highly convenient to be able to see information in front of your eyes as you need it, when you need it. Thus, these devices are being perceived as not only something for leisure, but also instruments that helps people with everyday business.
An Indian startup by the students of IIT Kharagpur, called Intugine, has created a gesture controlled product called Nimble. This is something that fits onto a user’s fingertips! The Nimble aims to kill the keyboard and mouse altogether and allow users to paint and write, point, pinch to zoom, interact with 3D models, play games and do much more using only hand gestures. The functionality similar to that offered by the LEAP motion controller, but covers a much larger space and claims to be highly accurate. The Nimble is advertised as perfect solution to control playback and volume while watching movies from the couch. This device, quite honestly, lets you keep your finger on the pulse of technology.
Thus, you can be sure that the future is already here! May the force be with you.
This article has been authored by Karen Miranda from SIES College of Management Studies (SIESCOMS)
(1) LEAP Motion - https://www.leapmotion.com/
(2) Ractive - http://www.ractiv.com/
(3) Thalmic Labs - https://www.thalmic.com/en/myo
(4) Intugine - http://www.intugine.com/products
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