Gesturetek To Let You Interact with Images Projected From Your Phone
Ciara Byrne Venturebeat Mar 04 2010
Late last year, LG launched a phone with an optional projector attachment that lets you project images from the phone to a larger surface. Now, Canadian company GestureTek says itíll go one better: It promises to project images from your phone that you can actually interact with.
GestureTek specializes in interfaces that track a userís hand gestures and body position using a camera. The video below is a concept demo from interface designers TAT. But GestureTek is building the technology for real (initially to be used by a single user, unlike the multi-user scenario shown in the video). An extra camera module and custom lens is required to track the finger on the projected image. The tracking should be quite accurate, with similar performance to the iPhone touch interface.
GestureTek CEO Francis McDougall says, ďI see it being functionally identical to an iPad. There is no restriction on the kinds of applications that you could use it for.Ē The touch projector technology is based on the companyís Illuminate tracker series, which is used in multitouch displays, whiteboards and tables.
Projected keyboard interfaces have been around for a while and have had limited success, so it will be interesting to see how consumers react to this kind of projected interface. GestureTek doesnít produce consumer products itself, but licenses the technology to OEMs, so itís hard to say when we will see any commercial products using this technology on the market. However, GestureTekís gesture recognition technology, futuristic though it seems, is already on its way into consumer products.
First up is a Hitachi TV coming out in Japan in Q3 2010. You can control the TVís volume and channel using hand gestures processed via a camera in the TV. See a video of the hands-free TV interface here. GestureTek has also developed face identification and recognition technology that allows the TV to identify how many people are in the room as well as their gender and age. It can also be trained to recognize individuals so that, for example, the TV automatically changes to your favorite channel when you enter the room.
The Xbox360 Natal project is an add-on to the Xbox also due for release in Q3 this year. Itís a gaming system with no controller required so that the game action is controlled using gestures. Natal uses a 3D camera and some technology licensed from GestureTek to recognize player gestures.
GestureTek was founded in 1986, has 65 employees and is privately owned with strategic investments DoCoMo and Telefonica.
GestureTek technologies have international patent protection. U.S patents include 5,534,917 (Video image based control system), 7,058,204 (Multiple camera control system), 7,227,526 (3D-vision image control system), 7,379,563 (Bi-manual movement tracker) and 7,379,566 (Optical flow-based tilt sensor). EyeMobile® is protected under patent TMA 700,194 with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for "mobile device application software featuring gesture recognition technology."