Touching and swiping are commonplace ways to interact with TVs, computers, and mobile devices thanks to smartphones, tablets, and Windows 8. But what if you want to do the same without touching the screen at all? (Videos)
That’s exactly the experience EyeSight Technologies, an Israel-based company that focuses on digital interaction, announced today that it’s found a way to provide with its new fingertip tracking technology. The company calls this the “world’s first commercial gesture technology to allow users to control digital devices with a fingertip” — remotely, that is.
In a nutshell, this technology makes possible touch-based-style interaction with devices, but without the actual touching. Instead, you just point a finger at a screen from about the same distance at which one would use a TV remote, say up to about 15 feet away. You move your finger in the air to control the cursor on the screen and do a virtual click for the tap command. When controlling a computer, this is similar to using a wireless mouse, with the finger taking the mouse’s place.
EyeSight says its software-based gesture technology works with different types of devices, including TVs, set-top boxes, computers, in-car infotainment systems, and even digital advertising signage. The base requirement is a basic 2D Webcam — similar to those found in many laptops or mobile devices — either built in or connected via a peripheral port to the device in question. The screen doesn’t have to be touch-sensitive for this technology to work.
As you can see from the demo videos, it seems like there’s a little lag between the finger gesture and the cursor movement, but overall the technology seems to work well, especially with big screens, for simple interactions. It’s unlikely, though, that this would work well for, say, typing long documents.
That said, this gesture technology will make a great complement to existing user-input methods, especially if, as EyeSight suggests, its cost is minimal. It’s similar to the more expensive Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing technology, which reads body motions and requires two special cameras.
Eyesight’s fingertip-tracking technology needs to be embedded at the hardware or OS level by the manufacturer or developer, meaning that you won’t be able to just buy the software, install it on your computer, and expect it to work.
EyeSight says it’s now offering software development kits (SDKs) for Windows, Android, and Linux platforms and is working with hardware vendors to implement the new technology. The company says that consumers can expect the first products with this technology built in some time this year. And then, couch potatoes won’t even need to get up to find the remote anymore.