The technology could change the way people interact with their day-to-day objects by turning almost anything into a controller.
Researchers from the UK’s Lancaster University have created new gesture control technology that can turn everyday objects into remote controls. The innovation could revolutionize how people interact with televisions and other screens such as a laptop showing YouTube videos, allowing for more than a single device to be used as a controller. The ‘Matchpoint’ technology only requires a normal webcam and works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular widget in the corner of the screen. These targets correspond to different functions, such as volume, changing channel or viewing a menu. The user synchronises the direction of movement of the target with their hand, head or an object in order to achieve what researchers call ‘spontaneous spatial coupling’, which activates the desired function.
Unlike existing gesture control technology, the software does not look for a specific body part it has been trained to identify, such as a hand. The technology, instead, looks for rotating movement so it doesn’t require the software to have prior knowledge of objects. This provides much more flexibility and ease for the user as it works even while hands are full, while standing, or when relaxing on the sofa. Users also do not need to learn specific commands to activate different functions, and the user is able to decouple at will.
When selecting volume adjustment or channel selection, sliders appear. The user moves their hand, head, or object, in the required direction indicated by the slider to change the volume or to find the desired channel. In addition to short-term couplings, users can also link stationary objects to controls, which even when left for prolonged periods will retain their control function. For example, a mug sat on a table could change a track on a music player when moved left or right, and a rolling toy car could be used to adjust volume. Objects can lose their coupling with controls simply by removing them from the camera’s field of view.
Gesture technology is transforming the way people interact with their surroundings, as proven by Lancaster University and a similar innovation that creates multiple remote controls using the screen’s surroundings. How could gesture technology boost efficiency in your office?