Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smartphone understands gestures

09.10.2014

Professor Otmar Hilliges and his staff at ETH Zurich have developed a new app enabling users to operate their smartphone with gestures. This development expands the range of potential interactions with such devices.

It does seem slightly odd at first: you hold the phone in one hand, and move the other in the air above its built-in camera making gestures that resemble sign language. Sometimes you move your index finger to the left, sometimes to the right. You can spread out your fingers, or imitate a pair of pliers or the firing of a pistol. These gestures are not, however, intended for communicating with deaf people; they are for controlling your smartphone.


Reminiscent of sign language: gesture control significantly expands the range of smartphone functionality. (Screenshot: ETH Zurich)

By mimicking the firing of a pistol, for example, a user can switch to another browser tab, change the map’s view from satellite to standard, or shoot down enemy planes in a game. Spreading out your fingers magnifies a section of a map or scrolls the page of a book forwards.

All this gesturing wizardry is made possible by a new type of algorithm developed by Jie Song, a Master’s student in the working group headed by by Otmar Hilliges, Professor of Computer Science. The researchers presented the app to an audience of industry professionals at the UIST symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Intelligent programming uses computer memory

The program uses the smartphone’s built-in camera to register its environment. It does not evaluate depth or colour. The information it does register – the shape of the gesture, the parts of the hand – is reduced to a simple outline that is classified according to stored gestures. The program then executes the command associated with the gesture it observes. The program also recognises the hand’s distance from the camera and warns the user when the hand is either too close or too far away.

“Many movement-recognition programs need plenty of processor and memory power”, explains Hilliges, adding that their new algorithm uses a far smaller portion of computer memory and is thus ideal for smartphones. He believes the application is the first of its kind that can run on a smartphone. The app’s minimal processing footprint means it could also run on smart watches or in augmented-reality glasses.

More control

The program currently recognises six different gestures and executes their corresponding commands. Although the researchers have tested 16 outlines, this is not the app’s theoretical limit. What matters is that gestures generate unambiguous outlines. Gestures that resemble others are not suitable for this application. “To expand its functionality, we’re going to add further classification schemes to the program”, says the ETH researcher.

He is convinced that this new way of operating smartphones greatly increases the range of interactivity. The researcher’s objective is to keep the gestures as simple as possible, so that users can operate their smartphone effortlessly.

But will smartphone users want to adapt to this new style of interaction? Otmar Hilliges is confident they will. Gesture control will not replace touchscreen control, but supplement it. “People got used to operating computer games with their movements.” Touchscreens, Hilliges reminds us, also required a very long adjustment period before making a big impact in consumers’ lives. He is therefore certain that this application – or at least parts of it – will find its way onto the market.

Reference

Song J, Sörös G, Pece F, Fanello S, Izadi S, Keskin C, Hilliges O: In-air Gestures Around Unmodified Mobile Devices, ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, Honolulu, Hawaii, 7 October 2014

Otmar Hilliges | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
https://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2014/10/smartphone-understands-gestures.html

Further reports about: ETH Zurich Interface Smartphone algorithm computer memory gesture gestures interactivity movements

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>