Controlling a TV by waving your arms in front of it sounds like science fiction. But it’s inching closer to reality as a deal between Softkinetic and Panasonic shows.
Brussels, Belgium-based Softkinetic plans to support Panasonic’s “time of flight” 3-D image sensors which can be used in upcoming gesture-control platforms. The Panasonic sensor is a chip that can detect in real time the motions of someone standing in front of a camera. The Softkinetic software takes those images and translates them into controls for a variety of applications: including TVs that can be controlled with hand gestures instead of remote controls.
Softkinetic’s issu software makes it easier for developers to create gesture-control applications using 3-D depth cameras that use sensors such as Panasonic’s chip. It enables precise real-time tracking of a user’s body and gestures. Panasonic is best known as a consumer electronics giant, but it also makes many of its own components such as chips.
The Panasonic chips use a technology that suppresses excessive light, allowing a 3-D camera to better detect motion, said Yuji Tanaka, general manager of R&D at Panasonic Electric Works in Japan. This deal means that Softkinetic could use Panasonic chips in its own white-labeled gesture-control platform, but for now Softkinetic is not doing that. It also means that other gesture control companies could use the Panasonic-Softkinetic technology in their gesture-control platforms.
Softkinetic’s customers will launch applications based on the Softkinetic technology, but Softkinetic is doing what it can to make adoption easier. It is, for instance, creating its own gesture-controlled games that could be used with a 3-D gesture control system. And it is also creating its own 3-D cameras in a joint venture with startup Optrima.