(Phys.org) —Norwegian based Elliptic Labs has revealed that the company has not only developed an ultrasonic gesture control chip for hand-held devices, but that it is already in talks with Asian hand-held hardware makers to embed the new technology. Representatives from Elliptic Labs have told reporters that they believe their chip technology will be available to consumers inside main-stream devices, as early as next year.
To date, the vast majority of gesture control devices use infrared light, a system that has worked very well for gadgets such as Microsoft's Kinect. But as owners of such devices can attest, they all have one major drawback—limited range. The chip by Ellipitc solves that problem by using sound waves instead of light. That means, as the company demonstrates in a video on its website, that users can control the device within a 180-degree field. The chip allows a device to "see" a hand held higher or lower than the screen, for example, or off to the left or right. Even more remarkably, it can do so from as far away as three feet. Company CEO Lila Danielson, says that the biggest advantage of using ultrasound over infrared is that it uses just a small fraction of the amount of power. And because the chip is tiny, that makes it a perfect fit for tablet computers or smartphones.
Gesture control with hand-held devices would most likely be used by users to turn pages (when hands are dirtied from cooking, etc.) or to move through slides or songs in a playlist. Being able to swipe a screen from a distance offers users an additional degree of control.
Elliptic Labs won the CEATEC 2013 Innovation Award in the Computing and Networking category this year for its innovative chip, because of its ease of portability to multiple devices and extremely small size allowing for embedding in virtually any device. It was at that ceremony that the company wowed an audience by demonstrating the chips capabilities by connecting it to an Android enabled smartphone. The company also notes that the chip can be easily integrated with new or current features of a device. One example is of a person using a smartphone snapping a photograph, then using a simple flinging gesture in the air, to send it over to a person holding another enabled device.
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