Microsoft SoundWave is a Kinect without the camera

By on May 8, 2012, 6:00 PM

Microsoft has been a pioneer in gesture control with their Kinect motion sensing device but a new venture from a Microsoft Research project team aims to essentially do the same thing without the cameras. SoundWave allows the user to control their computer with hand gestures that are recognize via sound waves.

More specifically, SoundWave is a real time sensing technique that works in conjunction with a microphone and a speaker. The technology emits an inaudible tone which then uses the Doppler effect to detect a frequency shift to recognize the hand gesture in action.

The user doesn’t have to wear any special sensors on their body for the detection algorithm to work and music can even be played simultaneously through the speakers without any adverse effects.

The Research team demonstrates several different applications where SoundWave could be useful, including scrolling through a document or webpage, using the technology to lock a user’s computer screen when they walk away and even play a game of Tetris.

The technology is very cool but as CNET points out, there are likely some restrictions on use. First, we don’t know how close the user must be to the microphone and speaker for the device to track gestures correctly. All of the tests in the sample video show a user relatively close to the computer. Additionally, we don’t know if there are any restrictions on where the microphone and speaker(s) must be placed for optimal results.

As a Research project, this isn’t something that we expect to see as a retail product anytime soon but should the tech prove promising, Microsoft could very well implement it into future devices.




User Comments: 4

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Raswan Raswan said:

Wow, cool Microsoft. Too bad someone beat you to the punch by three-quarters of a century.

[link]

Wah wah waaaaa

Cota Cota said:

The thing about this software, is that you need Silence!! ill kill iu!

My physics teacher during collage did something like this but the range was incredible small, so if you are going to stay really close to the device... why not use the keys?

You are wasting CPU resources to do something almost native on a PC....

Guest said:

@Raswan, so you are saying that 3 quarters of a century ago someone was using sound to control a computer? cause this is what this article is about. using sound and touchless input to control a computer. unless theremin was used with that in mind I cannot understand your point. and microsoft technology is based on the doppler shift.. guess what, the doppler effect was first proposed on 1842..

Raswan Raswan said:

@Raswan, so you are saying that 3 quarters of a century ago someone was using sound to control a computer? cause this is what this article is about. using sound and touchless input to control a computer. unless theremin was used with that in mind I cannot understand your point. and microsoft technology is based on the doppler shift.. guess what, the doppler effect was first proposed on 1842..

I'm saying the underlying principles are generally the same, and all they've added is some software capable of translating those data into something the computer can execute, so let's not go all gung-ho about the Microsoft research team. Anyone who watched the launch of the Kinect saw how much the homebrew explosion and mods surprised Microsoft; they had no idea their (in my opinion) vanilla idea just happened to have the right ingredients to be applied in so many other cool ways. They've just been riding that wave for the last 18 months.

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