Microsoft Develops Accurate Wrist-Mounted Motion Controller

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Microsoft Develops Accurate Wrist-Mounted Motion Controller

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A highly sensitive gesture-sensing peripheral could replace mice and keyboards someday.

Listening to the complete works of Mozart on your smartphone or pulling classic games out of thin air with a tablet can make regular desktop work seem positively Paleolithic by comparison. The mouse and keyboard have been the computer's de facto input devices for decades, but Microsoft is looking to change that. Inspired by its own Kinect, technicians at Microsoft have developed a wrist-mounted, gesture-sensing controller, sensitive enough to read and interpret the motions of individual fingers.

The device, which goes under the "Digits" moniker, resembles a large wristwatch, and uses a number of infrared LEDs and a camera to track its user's manual motions. David Kim, the Digits project leader, explains that the device emulates the Kinect in scope, but aims to be much more accurate in practice. "It shouldn't interfere with daily activity, and we wanted to enable continuous interaction," he says. The Digits prototype can plug into a PC or laptop and navigate through very subtle hand gestures. For example, pressing a thumb and forefinger together might skip a music track.

The device also has videogame applications. In addition to potentially allowing the fine control that games like Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor could have desperately used, Digits has the potential to enhance educational games for hearing-impaired children. "If we had finger-tracking wristwatches they could put on and play the game, we could look at how their fingers move through time, and give them feedback," says Thad Starner, another researcher in the field of computer peripherals. "That would be really beneficial."

Unless there's a breakout hit for the Kinect soon, Microsoft's motion controller for the Xbox 360 will most likely be remembered as a stepping stone for novel tech projects and more immersive controllers in the future. With any luck, Digits will make good on Microsoft's potential for novel input mechanisms.

Source: New Scientist

Image: New Scientist

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Talk about being an accessory to murder!

Wrist-detection? Hmm, seems neat, I suppose... but why not some kind of glove? There's no stigma wit-

image

...ohhh riighht yeaaaah

I cant complain much as long as they let the mouse+keyboard option available, but just like the Kinect this will only find long lasting success if it does exactly what it promises to do without any flaw (Kinect didnt and this probably wont too).

I dont mind innovation but you have to make it work exactly like that godlike silky smooth experience that for now belongs to the sci-fi realm

So it's a Playstation Move controller with the buttons replaced with a wristband...

...not like the Move controller was revolutionary or new for its time anyways...

I could see it replacing the mouse, but I don't think anything's going to beat the keyboard for inputting text until voice recognition reaches its potential.

Marshall Honorof:

Unless there's a breakout hit for the Kinect soon, Microsoft's motion controller for the Xbox 360 will most likely be remembered as a stepping stone for novel tech projects and more immersive controllers in the future.

Erm, Kinect Adventures? It's sold over 18 million copies. It's the single best-selling title on the 360.

I'm not saying that Kinect isn't something of a novelty, or couldn't be drastically improved in future. In fact, most of the games for it are pretty substandard. But people seem to have this assumption that Kinect hasn't really done much for Microsoft, when the fact is that it's provided them with more sales at retail than any Halo or Gears of War game. When it comes to the next generation, Microsoft are going to be far more inclined to look at what Kinect Adventures did for them (minimum investment, maximum profit) than things like Halo.

If it's as "accurate" as the Kinect I'm sure people will be flailing to the stores to buy them.

WTB 'Digits' based Guitar Hero game. I would buy Air Guitar Hero, despite the fact that my higher brain functions are even now shutting down in protest to the very idea.

Also: It would be better than the Kinect automatically simply because you wouldn't need a whole room to use it. If it does what they claim, I'd get one.

Falterfire:
If it does what they claim, I'd get one.

For me thats the key for it to work, but even then Im not that interested. It is kind of cool to think of how this could work with the Oculus Rift though. You could actually aim with the arm and look with the head.

great now I have to learn sign language to talk to my computer, and I just hope that I don't get the retarded French version.

I think this will make the mouse and keyboard obsolete first...

If they can make it so I dismiss error messages by shooting my computer the bird then I am totally sold on this idea.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about various companies researching new interface technologies and I like that. I think it's about time.
I doubt that we'll be using mouse and keyboard to play games or just surf the net in a couple decades.

I know teaching games are never done right but this kind of technology could teach people sign language, only if it is done correctly.

If they could miniaturize it a bit, I could totally see these becoming everyday tech-acessories. Would complement Google Glass-like HUD nicely.

What happens if my rear itches and I need to scratch it?

A Smooth Criminal:
What happens if my rear itches and I need to scratch it?

Then, my friend, you will have posted a comment on 4chan :P

So instead of just moving the mouse and clicking two or three buttons, counting the mouse wheel, we have to learn all kinds of pointless new hand gestures? Yeah, I'll take the simplicity of a mouse and keyboard over a needlessly complex device, regardless of how cool the demonstrations try to make it look; this counts for all the new input devices that are being worked on and shown. I'd rather keep things simple.

At last we can act like Gary from Alphas and do hand twitches all over the place!

Speaking of Mozart, we might finally get a game where you are the conductor and you need to carefully orchestrate the performance.

Marshall Honorof:
A highly sensitive gesture-sensing peripheral could replace mice and keyboards someday.

Not likely.

At least, not any time soon. It's all about getting things done on screen with a minimal amount of movement from your appendages needed and with a good degree of accuracy. Considering most people are on their computers more than an hour at a time, people are going to get annoyed with waving their fingers and hands around in the air to do anything on a screen.

Go on, try lifting your elbows, off the table, pinch at the air and move your hands around like you're browsing, clicking, and navigating your computer and net browser... now do that for an hour. It sucks.

I can see motion controls and stuff like this really useful for disabled people and SOME gaming situations, but most games cannot be played any better than with a mouse and keyboard, with some exceptions (C'mooon don't give me that look, Microsoft tried cross-platform play with 360 and PC users and then stopped when the PC users were dominating multiplayer by a wide margin). Steel Battalion was fun, but it was ment for a console without the keyboard and the novelty of having so many controls for 'realism'.

Obsideo:
I think this will make the mouse and keyboard obsolete first...

That looks extremely tiring, and with a twitch of my wrist on a mouse, I could make the same movements in the game much quicker than with his arms moving and hovering in the air, especially for an extended period

Haha, if this is the future I know I'm going to be the bitter old man talking about how things were better in the old days. "In MY day, we had to WORK for our porn... held a device in our hand and everything... no not THAT!"

Ughhhhhh! But I'm perfectly happy with moving as little as possible while I'm using my computer and/or video game console!

Stop trying to get me moving, society!

Andy of Comix Inc:
Wrist-detection? Hmm, seems neat, I suppose... but why not some kind of glove? There's no stigma wit-

image

...ohhh riighht yeaaaah

Hey! I love the Power Glove!

It's so bad.

OT: I have a few jokes lined up here:

"Imagine what Japan will do with this technology! Or rather, don't!

"Finally, using pointer-finger guns as kids will come to our advantage!"

"I'm not sure if I want a camera monitoring what my wrist is doing..."

Boom! Two masturbation jokes! I'm on my way to Escapist fame already.

Andy of Comix Inc:
Wrist-detection? Hmm, seems neat, I suppose... but why not some kind of glove? There's no stigma wit-

image

...ohhh riighht yeaaaah

Ohh, it's so bad!

I'm dissappointed, I thought Microsoft were going to announce they'd made a version of the wrist-blade wii-mote from the Assassins Creed April Fools advert.

Aww.

Now I can accurately flip Microsoft's Motion Detection hype the bird.

Finally my Bill and Ted air guitar exclamations of awesomeness dreams will be reality...

My money is on Jedi mind powers (BCI) rather than this shit.

Obsideo:

I think this will make the mouse and keyboard obsolete first...

Oh hey beat me to it.
Yeah seriously that thing is amazing. And the best part?
You can already pre-order the damn thing, and its what, like $80 or something?
Last time I checked a chunky old 360 pad cost that much (Australian at least) so I cant see MS making anything that could really compete with the Leap, at least price wise.

I don't really give a crap about this, I just look forward to what it might bring in the far future.

I say this on behalf of thumb twiddlers everywhere: do not want. Intuitive motion control is one thing. Motion control that does stuff constantly unless I sit stock still, very different.

I will stay by my keyboard and mouse all the way till we get holodecks.
motion controls are stupid, i dont want to dance jut to be able to play a RTS.

Ugh no thanks.

Now thought control or virtual reality on the other hand...

"could replace mice and keyboards someday."

No.

It won't.

Not if there is free consumer choice on this issue and not forced on us.

Because it DOES NOT MATTER how technically accurate the system can track something if it is limited by ERGONOMIC PRECISION! The thing about a touch-pad or mouse is you have contact and resistance with a firm surface, you get constant interaction that varies with downward pressure, lateral force and pivoting of the heel-of-the-hand on the same rigid surface.

A hand elevated in space has insignificant air resistance and only the significant resistance of the opposing muscle. It's a lot easier to hold a pen point on a paper than it is to hold a pen perfectly still in the air.

That's the thing about all these ideas of "hand up" they look impressive on a video but they ARE NOT IMPRESSIVE TO ACTUALLY USE!

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Marshall Honorof:

Unless there's a breakout hit for the Kinect soon, Microsoft's motion controller for the Xbox 360 will most likely be remembered as a stepping stone for novel tech projects and more immersive controllers in the future.

Erm, Kinect Adventures? It's sold over 18 million copies. It's the single best-selling title on the 360.

Kinect Adventures is a pack in game with every Kinect sold.

That's like saying Minesweeper is the most successful game in the world because it was a pack in game with every copy of Windows since the 1990's. People didn't buy Windows just for minesweeper, they didn't buy Kinect just for the pack in demo.

Are people actually playing and raving about Kinect adventures to the extent their sales suggest? No.

Games sold separately for Kinect, no where near as high as the thumbstick-based games for Xbox 360.

We're getting close.

Another 10 years and i can have prototype suit close to a weak iron man suit ready to be used in a combat situation for relatively cheap. Gesture controls are almost there (voice commands are too inaccurate & slow), titanium alloy and carbon nanotube enhanced fabric is easy to get, electric actuators can be made fast and battery packs are moving along nicely.
Only real problem i'm finding is the helmet - should the tinted plexiglass cover with screens for a HUD be a weak point, or should it be solid with a couple cameras mounted on the top displaying to one of samsungs flexible screens?

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