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Keep your phone in your pocket with new motion gesturing

This demonstration of motion gesture control while your phone is still sat in your pocket is pretty impressive stuff, but is it the future?

Are gesture-controlled smartphones the way forward in mobile-manipulation? The gesticulation geniuses at the University of Washington certainly seem to think so, which is why they’re developing the evolutionary step-up in contact-free smart-control: the AllSee System…

AllSeeing Eye...

It’s a radical idea that, if brought into practice in some of Europe’s more passionate countries, could lead to absolute OS Armageddon. There’s also great potential for looking like an absolute wally, but the sense behind SeeAll is intriguing: controlling your phone by waving your hands, without even taking your phone out of your pocket. Sounds weird, but it could prove a solid foundation for future smarthone control.

Unlike other motion-monitoring efforts that rely on a smartphone’s rear camera, the AllSee uses an ultra-low energy receiver that, powered by ambient electromagnetic waves from TV broadcasts, measures changes in the amplitude of said waves caused by body movement, and converts that information into smartphone commands. Got that?

Proving the theory, the wave-surfing gang at UW tested a prototype attached to the back of a standard smartphone and found their system could identify specific hand gestures from more than a metre away, with over 90% accuracy. These hand gestures allowed researchers to raise and lower music playback volumes and zoom in and out simply by waving their hands about like they were being attacked by a bee.

Give us a wave!

“This is the first gesture-recognition system that can be implemented for less than a dollar and doesn’t require a battery,” says Shyam Gollakota, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at UW. “You can leverage TV signals both as a source of power and as a source of gesture recognition.”

Effective, cheap and with an almost inexhaustible source of wireless power, the only real issue takes us back to the wild, windmilling arms of Europeans; hence a ‘wake-up’ gesture stopping the system confusing intense conversation with intentional gestures. Clever UW.

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