Control your TV simply by waving your arm

September 25, 2008,
A hand signal pauses the new TV

(PhysOrg.com) -- Consumers will soon be able to control their TV screens or home entertainment systems simply by waving their hand, thanks to technology developed by Toshiba's Cambridge Research Laboratory in collaboration with the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

The new gesture-based interface for flat panel displays was recently shown at a major consumer electronics show in Berlin (IFA).

How to use the TV's computer mouse

Using the Toshiba experimental TV viewers are able to interact with the display system simply by gesturing with their hand. Once the viewer is in front of the display screen, the system will ‘see’ them and invite them to take control of the display simply by raising their hand. As the system can robustly track their hand even under different lighting conditions, the visitor can enjoy controlling the on-screen cursor.

“The gesture-control research is extremely exciting and is opening an array of possibilities for consumers, such as new interfaces for TVs and interactive displays in shop windows and information kiosks,” explains Professor Roberto Cipolla , who with Dr Bjorn Stenger at Toshiba and Tom Woodley at the Department of Engineering, has been pioneering the use of computer vision in human-machine interaction since 1992. All three of whom are Department of Engineering alumni.

“The gesture interface may not replace a remote controller, but can provide an alternative way to interact with a PC or display. Imagine never having to search for the remote controller to turn the TV volume down when receiving a phone call.

“Having developed the system, we are now working on expanding its capabilities to ensure an easy-to-use and reliable system for the consumer which will work in real word scenarios, such as shops or peoples’ living rooms.”

Another vision-based interface has also been developed, viewers will be able to switch the display’s language or contents simply by showing different picture cards. Identification interfaces like this offer the user the ability to personalise either the interface or the contents.

The system uses a single camera mounted on the top of the display and is started by the user raising their hand to initiate the interaction. The software then tracks the person’s hand using multiple cues including colour, motion and appearance. It can reliably recognise and track the user’s gestures even under rapid motion or changing light conditions. Since different cues are less reliable in different situations this multiple-cue approach is key to making a human computer interface work robustly.

The team’s current research focuses on how to deal with multiple users (in a living room setting for example), how to track with finer control and how to deal with difficult lighting systems.

For more information please visit Professor Roberto Cipolla's webpages here.

Provided by University of Cambridge

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10 comments

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loboy
3.5 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
Go get a Wii.
holmstar
4.8 / 5 (4) Sep 25, 2008
great, so now when my nice or nephew runs into the room, arms waving around, my TV will suddenly go to volume level 30 and change to some other random channel...

...cant wait.
googleplex
5 / 5 (3) Sep 25, 2008
One flaw:
waving your arms at a winning touchdown/goal changes the channel so you miss the replay!
x646d63
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 25, 2008
googleplex, my thoughts exactly.

But I can't think of any other reason for an internet-connected TV with built in camera. Oh, yeah, there's that one idea that Mr. Orwell spoke of, but that was fiction.
Egnite
not rated yet Sep 26, 2008
Control your TV simply by waving your arm


I reckon it's still easier just to push a button...
MrFred
5 / 5 (2) Sep 26, 2008
Can't do that... requires too much movement, too much like exercise. The whole idea of being a couch potato is that you don't have to move... hence the remote control that sits in your hand requiring only the slightest movement of a finger to change the channel or volume.
lengould100
not rated yet Sep 26, 2008
Perhaps the inteface should be re-designed to require the controlling hand to be holding a 25 lb barbell.
Slamshift
5 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2008
Instead of simply waving your arms at them, I have found you can control any T.V. and many other devices by simply throwing a brick at them.
Falcon
not rated yet Sep 29, 2008
Instead of simply waving your arms at them, I have found you can control any T.V. and many other devices by simply throwing a brick at them.
one problem... that usually only works once and it only helps in permanently turning it off, lol.
Slamshift
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2008
I concede that initial R and D has shown a rather high device mortality rate (roughly 1:1)whilst employing what I like to call "Kiln Prepared Massive Object Deployment" (to the layman, "brick technology").
However, I feel that brick technology holds promise. Sure, there are hurdles to overcome in the realm of on/off repeatability...but I believe that with a sufficiently large development grant or private capital funding this and other technical questions will be resolved to our (or at least MY) satisfaction.
I am also working on a project I like to call "The Elvis Method" as an alternative to remotely shutting down devices...more on that later.

Investors and venture capitalists are welcome to inquire at this post.

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