A Norwegian company called Elliptic Labs is showing off a novel touch-less gesturing technology that uses ultrasound to bring Minority Report style controls to Windows 8 devices. The results are similar to what we’ve seen with Kinect and Leap Motion, translating hand movement onto the screen, but Elliptic claims the ultrasound technique has a much wider field of view, doesn't require lights, and is more responsive.
The technology uses sound waves emitted from speakers, or “ultrasonic transducers”, and bounced back to microphones to track the user's hand movements, which are then interpreted by Elliptic’s software. The speakers are dedicated while the mics can be used as regular microphones as well. According to COO Haakon Bryhni, the system ideally uses eight microphones and six speakers, but it can work with as few as two each.
Initially, Elliptic is focusing on integrating its gesturing system with Windows 8 laptops and PCs. But the company says tablets, smartphones, and even cars could easily implement the technology as well. It’s both cheaper and less power hungry than comparable systems based on cameras, and Elliptic is even touting it as an improvement over touch screens for the same reasons -- not to mention screen smearing.
Along with today’s announcement Elliptic is launching an SDK and a starter kit that can be used with a standard laptop, allowing computer vendors to evaluate the technology. The company is talking with a number of partners about integrating the technology into products, which could arrive in the next 12 to 14 months.