Gesture interface offers relief for touchscreen concerns
There have been instances when sensitive touchscreen sensors get in the way of achieving excellent user experience. As such, it is such a welcome treat to have gesture recognition technology grace the 2014 International CES. For the first time in the U.S., Norwegian company Elliptic Labs is set to unveil its Elliptic SDK that uses ultrasound for touchless gesturing on Android and Windows OS.
"A lot of consumers are looking for new ways to interact with their devices, whether it's for how to answer the phone, browse pictures or play games," said Elliptic CEO Laila Danielsen.
The Elliptic SDK leverages devices that consume little power and are already standard in many phones such as Knowles or Wolfson MEMS microphones operating above 20kHz, transducers and Murata ultrasonic speakers. Sound waves from the speakers will interact with the user's hand and bounce back into the microphone to provide position data for moving objects on a display.
Time-of-flight measurement and distributed sensing allow users to interact with their devices above, below and to the side of the screen. The software can recognize gestures within 180 degrees from the front of a display at a range of 50cm to a meter away from it.
Developers or users can create their own gestures in ways that help them navigate quickly.
"The gesture could be a flick with your hand, [or] you can point your hand straight toward [the display] and do a little tap [in the air]," Danielsen said. "If I do a circle on right side of device, it could mean turn off sound. If I do a circle on top of the device, it could mean bring up my Facebook profile."
"We're selling a software platform for various OEMs to build various applications," Danielsen said. "Some OEMs tried to focus on building a few games, some integrated it so users can answer the phone and browse email."
The software will first appear in handsets, but Danielsen said it will also be used in tablets, laptops and smart TVs in 2014. In addition, Elliptic is talking to companies about use in wearables and cars.
Danielsen said the software is "scalable, adjustable and customizable" so supporting other operating system would "not be an obstacle," she said. "The key is making sure that we pick a few features and make sure they work really, really well."
- Jessica Lipsky