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Mobile phones could soon be Hand Gesture Recognition devices

Researchers at The University of Warwick, UK, have developed software that could turn mobile phones into Hand Gesture Recognition (HGR) devices.

The software allows the 2D cameras in everyday consumer electronic products, such as mobile phones and tablet computers, to become HGR devices in uncontrolled environments with both natural and artificial light. Hitherto now, operating in uncontrolled environments had proved very challenging.

Existing HGR technologies require infrared or 3D cameras and will only work in artificial light and have been limited to the gaming industry and smart TVs. The new technology, which can also recognise both gesture and posture, is more economical, practical to use and opens up the possibilities of HGR being used in the automotive, health and consumer electronics sectors.

Co-inventor Yi Yao said: ‘Surgeons, who currently cannot use traditional computers in operating rooms, could search hands-free for data or switch between appliances and similarly, whilst cooking in the kitchen, we could instruct our mobile phones to take a call on speaker or switch to music or video.’

Analysts at Markets and Markets predict that the global gesture recognition market is due to grow from $0.3bn last year to an $11.03bn industry by the end of 2020. Dr Shum Prakash, business development manager at Warwick Ventures said: ‘For the gesture recognition sector to grow, it needs new, innovative products that address the problems with existing technology and can be easily applied in people’s day-to-day lives. By being able to be used on the devices we already own, this new technology solves both of these problems and could lead to HGR technology becoming an integral part of the automotive, health and consumer electronic sectors’.

The inventors state that the new technology could potentially have a wide-range of real-world uses. ‘Consumers are already aware of existing HGR technology being used, and not always working, with gaming consoles and smart TV. Whilst it will be able to overcome the problems currently faced by users, our new technology could be used in sectors and fields in need of new possibilities’,  Yao commented.


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