New From Microsoft: Multitouch In Mid-Air

New From Microsoft: Multitouch In Mid-Air

Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care

Researchers in the UK have put together a prototype wrist-worn sensor that turns your own hand into a 3D movement controller for almost any device you can think of.

Experts from Newcastle University and the Cambridge-based Microsoft Research used off-the-shelf parts to assemble a sensor that straps to your wrist and detects movement of your arm, hand and fingers. There’s no need for any external sensor, nor for line-of-sight to the device you’re controlling. Everything’s done using the technology you wear.

Here’s a video that explains more.

The prototype, called DIGITS, is a little bulky now, but that’s prototypes for you. No doubt a consumer version could be designed that was a great deal thinner.

The team’s aim was to replicate the flexibility and accuracy of data gloves, but without the gloves themselves. Movement is easier and more natural when you’re just using bare hands. They also wanted to remove physical ties. Other wireless control systems still require the user to stand near, or front of, some kind of sensor. This idea puts the sensor on your wrist, so you can still use it while walking from place to place.

In the video, you can see tests being done with a tablet device like an iPad, and plenty of uses of existing multitouch gestures – except the gestures are being done in mid-air, not on a screen surface. The possibilities of technology like this for new devices, or new applications on older devices, are intriguing.

It reminds us a bit of the Leap wireless motion controller which we’ve covered in detail before, only this is a Leap in a whole new direction.

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  • MySkyizBlue

    Apple is screwed if Microsoft patents this

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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