Researchers add gesture recognition to nearly everything

researchers add gesture recognition to nearly everything touche

There’s something very intuitive about interacting with electronic devices via simple gestures. Even the most technologically ignorant can grasp the idea that selecting an app on an iPhone is just a matter of tapping its icon, and as a result this kind of a technology has become nearly ubiquitous in recent years. Hoping to further that, researchers at Disney and Carnegie Mellon University have unveiled a new technology dubbed Touché that allows nearly any object to recognize gestures, and transmit this information to a range of electronic devices.

The theory behind Touché is relatively simple. Your iPhone recognizes touch thanks to capacitive coupling, which, in short, is its ability to detect the electrical signal transmitted from your finger to the iPhone screen. Instead of relying on a screen however, Touché detects the electrical signal sent to any object or element capable of transmitting electricity. Thus, doorknobs, tables and even pools of water can be used with Touché to control a range of gadgets.

Most intriguingly, Touché is accurate enough to detect small differences in this electrical signal, allowing it to differentiate between minutely different forms of touch. “… the team at Disney measures across a wide range of signal frequencies to derive more information. This means that each gesture — a tap, a pinch, a grasp, a flat palm — has a different multi-frequency ‘capacitive profile’ to be recognized,” writes Ars Technica. “Plus, different body tissues have different capacitive properties, so monitoring a range of frequencies can also detect a number of different paths that the electrical charge takes through the body.”

As proof of concept, the Disney Research team offered “a smart doorknob that knows whether it has been grasped, touched, or pinched; a chair that dims the lights when you recline into it; a table that knows if you’re resting one hand, two hands, or your elbows on it; and a tablet that can be pinched from back to front to open an on-screen menu.” Likewise, the team issued the video you can see below that demonstrates Touché’s ability to detect electrical signals in water.

Though we’re still a ways from seeing this technology employed in the real world, Disney senior research scientist Ivan Poupyrev claims that Touché’s accuracy is nearly 100 percent, so if useful applications can be found, Touché could see consumer availability quite soon.

Product Review

Don't let the bigger iPhones woo you away: The XS is still a masterpiece

Apple’s next smartphone is here -- the iPhone XS. We think it’s the perfect size for an iPhone, and it manages to impress with astounding performance, and sizable camera improvements.
Emerging Tech

Versatile robotic skin gives stuffed horse, other inanimate objects some giddyup

Researchers at Yale University have developed a new sensor-packed robot skin that can be wrapped around inanimate objects, such as toys, to transform them into functioning robots.

Here's the Samsung Galaxy S9's new Android 9.0 Pie interface

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus are here. The flagship devices boast some awesome new features and a powerful new processor. Here's everything you need to know about these Samsung phones.

Google Maps is available on Apple CarPlay with iOS 12

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The new OS comes along with tons of new capabilities from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts, here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.
Emerging Tech

JackRabbot 2 is Stanford’s friendly new campus-roaming social robot

JackRabbot 2 is a robot developed by researchers at Stanford University -- designed to navigate around the campus, while carrying out friendly interactions with the humans around it.
Emerging Tech

New sustainable plan to mitigate climate change involves… a hot dog cooker?

Chemists have demonstrated a new, energy-efficient method of pulling carbon dioxide directly from the air. The secret ingredients? An air humidifier and a solar-powered hot dog cooker.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Removing ‘zombie cells’ in the brain could help battle the effects of dementia

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have demonstrated how the removal of so-called "zombie cells" can help reverse the effects of dementia-style cognitive decline in mice. Here's what they did.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s planet hunter satellite gets first hit in its search for another Earth

NASA's planet hunter satellite TESS has discovered a new Earth-like planet. At only 62 light-years distant, the new find is much closer than the Kepler Mission's 2015 exoplanet discovery -- that one was 155 light-years distant.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

New mask-mounted head-up display gives Navy combat divers tactical advantage

Divers are often forced to work in low-light conditions where visibility is limited or all-but nonexistent. In order to help solve this problem, the Navy has developed a new head-up display known as Shadow Nav.
Emerging Tech

Roll over, SpotMini — here comes the ALMA robo-dog

If two robo-dogs met on the street, would one try to sniff the mechanical components at the rear of the other? We have no idea, but with at least two different rob-dogs now making real advances, we may soon find out.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese spacecraft just landed two rovers on an asteroid

Japan's space agency has succeeded in landing two rovers on the surface of an asteroid around 200 million miles from Earth. The deployment is part of a bold mission aimed at unlocking some of the mysteries of our solar system.
Emerging Tech

3D-printed gun advocate extradited to Texas to face sex-assault charges

Cody Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed, has been arrested in Tawan. U.S. law enforcement have reported that they are working with Taiwanese authorities to have Wilson returned to the U.S. where he faces charges of sexual assault.