Star chef points the way

Feb 10, 2010
Just point a finger -- and the film starts or the light is dimmed. (c)Fraunhofer/Matthias Heyde

Master chef Johann Lafer is a virtuoso in the kitchen -- and with modern technology too. At his cookery school the TV celebrity adopts a high-tech approach to make things easier in the kitchen with the touchless iPoint-Presenter.

Venison from the Sonnwald Forest, Tahitian vanilla, orange blossom salt - Johann Lafer uses only the finest ingredients in the dishes he prepares. The Austrian star chef also chooses the best-quality equipment for his Table d'Or cookery school in Guldental near Bad Kreuznach. The dining area boasts a special technological highlight. A 70-inch Full-HD-display which can be operated just by pointing a finger. When Johann Lafer wants to present the menu sequence to his pupils, call up a short film, play music, change the lighting mood or show pictures of meals, a brief movement of the finger is enough to start the selected program.

This is possible thanks to technology from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI. The researchers in Berlin have developed a computer control system which is operated by gestures. "The iPoint Presenter consists of two digital cameras which register the movement of the finger and transfer this to the computer. Our software calculates the 3D coordinates of the finger from the video data and recognizes simple hand gestures in real time," explains HHI scientist Paul Chojecki. The recognition device about the size of a keyboard is housed in a drawer on the front of the large dining table. When the drawer is opened, the gesture recognition system automatically switches on. "The iPoint Presenter tracks the finger and the cursor moves on the display as if worked by an invisible hand. To open a program you just keep your finger pointing at the relevant button," says Chojecki.

At this year's CeBIT visitors will be able to try out the system for themselves. It can also be used to operate lights and domestic appliances and therefore fits in nicely with the trade show's keynote »Connected Worlds« theme. The researchers are now working on new applications. Chojecki: "As the interaction takes place without anything having to be touched, the system is ideal for scenarios in which contact between the user and the computer needs to be avoided, such as in operating theaters." In collaboration with medical technology company Storz the engineers are developing an innovative operating theater control system.

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