A new gestural controller allows hands-free control on devices without cameras.
We have seen a number of innovations aimed at virtual and augmented reality applications. These include haptic VR gloves and an AR screen that duplicates AR displays without the need for headsets. Now a startup in Vellore, India named Vicara has developed a gesture control that could make manipulating an AR or VR environment as easy as pointing a finger. Gestural controls are not new. Leap Motion developed a platform that allows mobile devices with VR support to sense finger motions and then incorporate these into VR. Microsoft also developed Kinect, an upgrade for the Xbox 360. However, both of these required users to hold their hands up, which could be exhausting over time. Kai by Vicara intends to give users more intuitive control.
Vicara’s main innovation was to design the Kai as a wearable for the palm of your hand. This eliminates the need for operators to hold their hands up while they use the system. In addition, the Kai can track finger movements without using cameras. Instead, the wearable contains optical sensors which emit a beam of light and use that to model the hand movements. The company plans to develop a system whereby users can map personal gestures, allowing them to fully customise their movements.
Vicara envisions the Kai will be usable for a host of applications, such as CAD modelling and drone operation. Their approach was to think of ways to augment the existing mouse and keyboard, rather than replace them. Vicara co-founders Adarsh Warrier and Abhishek Satish are recent graduates of the Vellore Institute of Technology and the company is being incubated by the Institute. They are launching an Indiegogo campaign and will be pricing pre-orders between USD 100 and 129. The company is betting that a system which allows hands-free VR and AR will help give them an edge. Will this bet pay off?