Earlier this month, at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many new advances were revealed in the field of gesture recognition technology. While engineers are still working on an automated system to cut you off after you drunkenly expose yourself to a slot machine, TriplePoint client SoftKinetic had some actual new tech to show off, including new golf swing tracking systems, and improved drivers to allow you to use gesture recognition cameras at extremely short distances. It is recommended that you not use these two advances at the same time.
We at Frisky Mongoose are known to employ a broad variety of gestures at our personal electronics, particularly when they are not doing what we want them to. Naturally, we began to think about what gaming applications might become possible as gesture recognition improves — so we asked. We would like to thank Virgile Delporte, VP of Business Development at SoftKinetic, for speaking to us.
FM: Prior to the new short-range drivers, what was the closest a user could reliably get to a gesture recognition device?
Delporte: About one and a half meters. The target experience has traditionally been 10 feet away and in the living room.
FM: What kinds of gaming applications are possible with such short-range recognition? Can we look forward to delicate in-game operations like safecracking or surgery?
Delporte: Games are often the first type of application one can think of for gesture recognition, and the examples you mentioned are very much possible. But more importantly, it is very natural to interact with a screen using gestures, and many productivity features should emerge as a complementary interaction to the current keyboard and mouse. Getting video conferencing with background suppression, to protect privacy, is a good example of what the 3D camera will allow you to do tomorrow. As precision goes higher, we will be able to indeed move into very delicate use.
FM: Which existing products can the new technology serve to enhance?
Delporte: Gesture recognition is meant to enhance interaction with the digital world in general. The deployment of smart TVs, providing access to much more non-linear content, requires a new way to interact with the device, and gesture recognition is a very natural way of doing this. The other technology you can think of is in the PC world, whether that be laptops or desktops. As the 3D sensor miniaturizes, you will also be able to use your tablet or mobile phones with gestures.
FM: What new devices might be designed in the future that could be built with this technology in mind?
Delporte: The most evident is definitely next generation tablets and mobile phones, which should provide brand new user experiences. But the technology will also serve in next generation surveillance devices, like smarter robots and home security devices, for example.
FM: What is the most impressive use you have seen, so far, of gesture recognition technology?
Delporte: Many things I can’t talk about yet! But some Kinect hackers have been VERY smart about how to use 3D and 2D.
FM: What do you think will be the greatest application of gesture recognition? What is the future of the interface?
VD: The most useful applications are certainly in health and science. Rehabilitation is an established market that gesture recognition can help disrupt by bringing a very reliable tracking of movements while adding fun to the process, which can help patients heal much faster. SilverFit in the Netherlands is a good example of this.
The future of the interface is probably a great mix of gesture and voice recognition – but they will cohabit for quite a long time with existing input devices such as the keyboard and mouse.