Gadget Watch: Control a PC with body motions

Jan 13, 2012 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer
Gadget Watch: Control a PC with body motions (AP)
In this Jann. 11, 2012 file photo, a boy plays with a motion sensing 3D version of the video game Fruit Ninja at the LG exhibit at the 2012 International CES tradeshow, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

(AP) -- Don't trash your keyboard and mouse just yet. But three companies at the International Consumer Electronics Show demonstrated depth-sensing cameras that let you to control your computer by moving your hands or body.

Microsoft's Kinect add-on for the console has already popularized these cameras for gaming. Now, the technology is being set loose for use on other devices. However, like many gadgets shown at the annual Las Vegas-based extravaganza of phones, PCs and TVs, the cameras aren't quite ready for the mass market.

The companies showed off their cameras to give and a chance to work with the technology and incorporate it in their products. For the rest of us, it's a taste of what the future might hold.

WHY IT'S HOT: The cameras represent another challenge to the keyboard-and-mouse regime, which is already being eroded by touch screens. If you're in front of a depth-sensing camera, you don't have to touch the screen to control it with your fingers or hands. (This works with non-depth-sensing cameras as well, but they're not as good at figuring out what you're doing.) At the PrimeSense booth, visitors could browse and play the contents of a digital video library with - basically, anything you'd do with a mouse today. The Israeli company's camera goes into the Kinect and is now sold separately as the Asus Xtion.

BEHIND THE LENS: The cameras can tell how far away things are in their . PrimeSense does this by sending out an invisible pattern of light, and registering how it's deformed when it hits objects. SoftKinetics' camera works almost like radar, but with light: it sends out and measures how fast it comes back. Where it takes longer, it figures out that that part of the image is further away.

THE DOWNSIDE: If you buy one of these now, there isn't much you can do with it, unless you're a software developer. The Asus Xtion comes with a few simple Kinect-like games for your PC. For all of these cameras, the depth-sensing range is limited to about 12 feet, and at the far end of the range, accuracy is reduced. That means finger gestures may not be picked up from across the living room.

AVAILABILITY: Microsoft said it will start selling a "Kinect for Windows" camera starting Feb. 1st, for $249. Asus started selling the Xtion in December for $149. SoftKinetics, a Belgian company, started selling its camera around the same time for $499.

Explore further: Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Asus, PrimeSense to bring motion controls to PCs

Jan 03, 2011

(AP) -- If you've been wishing you could ditch your clunky computer mouse and control your PC with gestures - the way you can using Microsoft Corp.'s Kinect motion controller for the Xbox 360 gaming console ...

Kinect's Israeli partner sees a remoteless world

Sep 04, 2010

(AP) -- Inon Beracha envisions a world where your movements control the gadgets and devices around you. There's no remote control to lose, no buttons to push. The air conditioner senses your presence and changes the temperature ...

Microsoft Kinect makes moves on computers

Jun 17, 2011

Microsoft on Thursday began letting software developers imbue computers with voice and motion-sensing technology from its Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 videogame console.

Sales of Microsoft's Kinect top 10 million

Mar 09, 2011

Microsoft said Wednesday that sales of the gesture-sensing Kinect for the Xbox 360 videogame console had topped 10 million units, making it the fastest-selling consumer electronics device ever.

Recommended for you

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

Apr 18, 2014

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

Apr 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...