If the inclusion of motion controllers with the HTC Vive and the growth of Leap Motion has taught us anything, it’s that humans like using their hands to make alterations to the digital world just as much as the physical. That’s why Microsoft believes motions and gestures could be the best input method for virtual reality, and it’s putting a lot of time and effort into developing that capability.
Up close, short-range and long-range gesture tracking is something Microsoft has been playing around with for some time. We saw the first potential commercial applications of the technology with Microsoft’s Kinect system on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, but the firm believes that the technology can go much further than that.
While most people consider gesture controls — particularly in VR — for gaming purposes, Adi Diamant, director at Microsoft’s Advanced Technologies Lab, thinks it can go much further. He sees gestures as helping with everyday activities, including designing, flipping through spreadsheets, writing, browsing the web, and such creative tasks as making music (thanks Winbeta).
In the above video showcase of what it has been developing, Microsoft shows how its developments are beginning to overtake those from other institutions around the world. Most notably the firm has improved the efficiency of hand tracking, reducing the amount of information that must be gathered in order to reproduce hands and digits in the virtual world by huge margins. That allows the software to recover from tracking failure much more quickly.
Better yet, it means that low-end hardware can still run hand tracking, which would be the best way to bring a large number of people on board with the input method. Considering how high the bar for entry-level virtual reality has been set, it’s good to see that future technologies may not be quite so taxing.
And yes it’ll be good for gaming too. As Microsoft shows at the end of the video, human interaction in gaming worlds designed to aid non-player characters could be a whole new genre in itself, and could showcase a very intuitive way to teach people about interacting with virtual worlds.
We just want a chance to try out that virtual keyboard.