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urig Tidbits from a .net life

You might recall my previous post about innovations in man-machine interfaces that bring us closer to the vision seen in Steven Spielberg's Minority Report - where Tom Cruise interacts with a computer by moving his hands in space to move 3D "objects" on screen.

That post was about a novel touch screen that supports multiple points of contact - allowing for 2D interactions that is much more intuitive than using a keyboard or a mouse.

Now comes a brilliant project from Microsft Research's Andy Wilson. He's written a program that utilizes a simple 30$ webcam to monitor his hand movements, in space, to interact with his computer.

He calls his system TAFFI (Thumb and Forefinger Interface). You can see a video he posted below and you can read more about it in a paper he published titled Robust Computer Vision-Based Detection of Pinching for One and Two-Handed Gesture Input (Requires Registration :( ).

TAFFI is very impressive considering the humble hardware it relies upon and the potential it has to be extended from relying on a 2D view from one webcam to a 3D view by two or more high definition cameras.

I've had the pleasure of experiencing something similar at the Adidas store on Champs-Elysees in Paris about a week ago. In addition to highly overpriced Adidas sportswear the store also invites the users to interact, using their hands, with commercial presentations displayed on big screens. Adidas calls it their "mi Innovation Center".

One at a time, a shop visitor can step up to such a screen and put his arm forward. Something like a green laser scans the area of the wrist for about a second and then the user can move his hand pointing at different parts of the screen and an on-screen cursor follows. When the cursor is made to rest on one of several thumbnail pictures floating on screen, that is considered a "click" (in old-fashioned mouse terms :) ) and the thumbnail opens up into a picture or a video.

It was a lot of fun to play with for a few minutes, but it's not quite "there" yet. This toy only supports one point of interaction at a time and you need to be careful not to move too fast or out of a certain zone in space otherwise calibration is lost.

And here's a video of the thing from YouTube (Careful, loud soundtrack):

Partially via Gadgetopia

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2007 9:09 AM | Back to top

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