Gesture-based computing takes a serious turn

CALL me a creature of habit, but I approach any new computer interface with a sense of apprehension. I’m downright inept when it comes to playing video games on the Nintendo Wii: the wand controller is just too foreign to my mouse and keyboard-entrained muscles. I feel that familiar sense of unease as I stand in a nondescript brick warehouse in downtown Los Angeles.

I am at the headquarters of Oblong Industries, developers of the G-Speak gestural computingMovie Camera interface, and I’m about to trial its system for controlling computers through hand gestures.

I find myself surrounded by a cage of metal scaffolding, which houses the system’s 16 near-infrared motion detectors, as John Underkoffler, Oblong’s chief scientist, boots up the system. I’m amidst three large screens, and above me three projectors beam images onto them. A fourth overhead projector, pointing onto a white table, serves as a fourth screen. Underkoffler insists that the G-Speak is targeting hardcore number-crunchers, not gamers, but the rig looks like it would be more at home in a rock club than an office.

Underkoffler hands me a pair of black gloves with tiny reflective balls attached to the back of every digit except the pinky. The gloves help a camera follow my hands but add to the feeling that I’m about to start a performance. Yet again, Underkoffler stresses this is serious computing, before adding that: “The goal is to get rid of the gloves entirely, and we’re not far from that.”

Read more via  New Scientist.


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