Researchers use Doppler Effect for computer gesture control

May 07, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
SoundWave allows non-contact, real time in-air gesture sensing on existing commodity computing devices.

( -- Researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington have together created a system whereby a computer user can use hand gestures to instigate a limited set of computer commands such as scrolling and mimicking mouse double-clicking, that uses nothing but inaudible sound and doesn’t require any hardware other than a standard computer microphone and speakers.

The system is based on the now famous , whereby the frequency of sound waves changes as an object making noises passes by another that hears it. In the real world, most recognize it as the way sirens appear to change the way they sound when an emergency vehicle passes by. With this new system, the engineers record the change in frequency of a tone (20 and 22 kilohertz, beyond normal hearing range) generated by the computer’s speaker using the computer’s microphone, when an object, such as a hand passes by. Software, the team calls SoundWave analyzes the frequencies and converts them to computer commands. It can also be used with a Smartphone.

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Thus far, the team has managed to capture five basic variables involved with the change in frequency: velocity, direction, proximity, the size of the object and time variation. By capturing and measuring these variables when are made in front of a computer, SoundWave is able to perform scrolling, recognize tap and double tap (mimic mouse clicks) perform a two handed seesaw (to turn objects on screen) and recognize sustained motion. The result is a system that is good enough to allow a computer user to play a game of Tetris without ever touching the computer. It also can be made to recognize when a person approaches a , causing it to wake up, or to go back to sleep as soon as the person leaves.

The team has tested the software on a multitude of different kinds and brands of computers using existing hardware and has found that no tweaking was necessary to perform basic functions and overall commands were executed correctly ninety percent of the time. They also tested the system using a variety of users and in several environments, including a noisy cafeteria and found the software worked reliably in virtually every scenario.

At this point, it appears the team is positioning the SoundWave software as an add-on to computers, serving to fill in some of the gaps in other gesture based systems (such as ’s Kinect) that rely on cameras and other sensors. They are set to submit a paper for review describing the SoundWave system at the upcoming ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing.

Explore further: IBM Watson Group to transform the consumer shopping experience

More information: SoundWave: Using the Doppler Effect to Sense Gestures (research paper)

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not rated yet May 07, 2012
The dogs will love this ;)
not rated yet May 07, 2012
OK, so they've reinvented the ultrasonic motion detector. Talk about retro upgrades!
not rated yet May 07, 2012
Too bad I can hear 22kHz, now I will be annoyed by setups such as this
not rated yet May 08, 2012
Too bad I can hear 22kHz, now I will be annoyed by setups such as this

At least you will hear it why your PC suddenly starts to act crazy. :)
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2012
I was going to say something sarcastic but, I won't. This totally speaks for itself. It looks like the software industry has hit a roadblock in the ingenuity sector and that's not just Microsoft. It seems we need another Einstein to come up with something good so those guys have something useful to work on. Or. Maybe. The human IQ is on it's way down from it's peak a few decades ago. I blame it on the abuse of acronyms LOL
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2012
Oh I see what they have in mind! I Touch becomes I Motion......catchy
not rated yet May 08, 2012
This is a worthless development. It has no application, is inferior to existing interfaces, and will never be realized in a viable product.

There is however utility in sensing the approach or retreat of a person. However there are more reliable and less computationally intensive methods of doing this.

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