The overwhelming success of Microsoft's Kinect sensor is just now showing up in grainy photocopied forms--meaning, the ripoffs are emerging. But that's actually okay with us. Some of them work really well, and do things the Kinect, due to it being a third-party accessory, won't ever be able to do. We played with new gesture experiments from LG and Samsung, and we're kind of looking forward to the next year, when we can heave our remote controls out the window forever.
LG GESTURE CAM
LG is having a pretty great show--they were the first of the show to demonstrate the visual circus that is the 55-inch OLED TV, and they also quietly showed off a Kinect clone that's actually very impressive. It's called the LG Gesture Cam at the moment, though it probably won't be when it's released sometime in 2012. It's basically a Kinect-like sensor, but with a single video camera, a depth sensor, and no microphones. It'll work with any LG smart TV, and be sold separately. The picture at the top of this post shows it in action.
It's basically a complete remote control replacement. All of the options on-screen have been replaced with larger icons, so you can grab them more easily. And yeah, grab is the right word: instead of a Kinect-style "hover over the item to select it," the LG system does a "make a fist to select" motion. To move the cursor, you use your open hand, palm out, and to select, you close your hand like you're grabbing something. That also lets you do stuff like drag and drop, which to my knowledge isn't available on Kinect (though of course there isn't all that much of a reason to drag and drop in Kinect).
There are all kinds of motions to perform different actions--pulling down from the top brings up a menu, moving your hand in a circle changes the volume (clockwise for volume up, counterclockwise for down), that kind of thing. It works with a bunch of different apps, as well. Fruit Ninja was in full effect, working almost as fluidly as the version on Kinect. The rep was an expert at it: judging by the way he was using the system, the thing is impressively responsive. But he wouldn't let me try it, saying that there's "a bit of a learning curve." And when an inexperienced rep tried it, he had trouble with the "grab to select" motion. Still, if they can iron the kinks out, I like the LG version a lot.
SAMSUNG GESTURE TV
Samsung's version didn't even have a provisional name, to my knowledge. And despite the long line to see it, it didn't work nearly as well as LG's. But there are a few things that are very cool about Samsung's version, not least the ability to turn your TV on with your voice. It also seems like a recipe for disaster, if your definition of disaster includes a TV turning on and off. You turn it on by saying "Hi TV!," which also seems like the universal "home" keyword. "Hi TV!" also opens and closes the menu.
Otherwise, the voice control works mostly like the Kinect's. Options pop up at the bottom of the screen, and you have to say exactly the phrase indicated--if the correct phrase is "volume up," you can't say "increase volume," or anything like that. But in the tiny enclosed room, silent except for my loud camera shutter, it worked very well.
What didn't work was the gesture control. It's called up by waving at the TV, just like on the Kinect, but something wasn't working and during my demo, the gesture control never worked. But I talked to the rep about how it works, and it's similar to LG's. You make the same sort of grabbing motion to select, though it's less like making a fist and more like the motion you'd make if you want to make a sock puppet talk. It also has a web browser and YouTube viewer and things like that, which can be controlled with voice or gesture.
It'll also be able to use facial recognition as security, which could be nice for parents. And the camera will also be used for Skype.
The hardware is a little different than LG's. Rather than an external accessory, it's just a camera and microphone embedded into the top of the actual TV, and will be found on many of its higher-end, internet-connected smart TVs, including the 55-inch OLED we drooled over.
The Haier booth also had a Kinect-like system set up. I tried it for a few minutes, most of which time was spent trying to enter my name, arcade style (and D-A-N is usually a pretty quick selection). Then, once I finally entered my name and got back to the main screen, I tried to select a game, and the whole screen went white except for a Windows error message in Chinese. There was no rep around to ask what happened so I just took a picture and kind of wandered off.
Colors, magnetic fluxes, stars, dimensions, things beyond our own imagination are beginning to twist and turn another way. .... The change is occurring, it is happening, now are the steps of ants, but soon the steps will be loud and with solid foundation of confidence and direction. The change of life for everything has begun.
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
if i was microsoft i would sue them because that is pretty much the kinect. it looks almost just like it. With i different base, and name
I completely agree. I think for desktop computers, they'll always be a mouse, that touch is obviously wonderful for iPads and the like, and that remotes (perhaps upgrade to tablet remotes) will always be easier for television.
The future for sure, though, will be that the TV, COMPUTER, and TELEPHONE will all be the same device.
All of this technology is fairly simple and easy to replicate, the one problem I'm seeing is that nobody wants to look like they're ripping another company off too much. The software probably has alot to do with it too. I see this tech and keep wondering why its not more refined. I'm guessing that they have r&d related to making this stuff, the people making it probably feel accomplished with the products they have, but i still wish the improvement was more noticeable. It's not even existent in HAIER's demonstration.
It's really fun to see television and technology companies working towards revolutionizing the user interface of televisions. Whether it is Microsoft's Kinect that will allow you change channels by waving your hands in the air or interfacing with Apple's Siri it's long over due.
I would be interesting to know what the social conversation is between the competing interfaces during CES. What are people more jazzed up about?
Community Engagement, Radian6
Personally, I think that gesture and speech control is a great idea. I've often wondered why I haven't seen a design that uses a glove with different colored finger tips to help identify more precise gestures. I'm not too big on 3d. Thus far I just haven't seen any that truly blew me away. It's neat seeing stuff pop out at you, but it still feels like a cheap trick, it's tough to put it into words, but I guess that as long as I can still really get into a movie or game on a 2d device, then I feel no need for 3d until it gets more affordable or truly blows my mind.
There's also something to be said for analog devices like remotes and keyboards, the satisfying press and click of a button, not to mention durability is rarely matched by a touch screen or gesture (plus you don't have to worry about your keyboard getting greasy from your fingers or misreading your gestures). If there was a gesture tv with no remote, and one that did have one, I would buy the one with the remote, even if it cost a little more.
that is correct. im sure that within the next 10 years tvs,pcs,phones and even game systems will be all integrated. mp3 players are slowing demising since all new smart phones come with PMP(portable media players)
"religion is like a prison for the seekers of wisdom"
This comment is a little late, but something just occurred to me.
How many times will this thing be 'falsely gestured' when the gang is over for the superbowl.
The WR is screaming toward the end zone, there's 2 seconds on the clock, the defender is inches way--- and bam! you're watching Oprah :)
Could even happen with the voice commands.
The clicker might not be dead yet
Gesture control looks kind of fun and I can see people buying in to it. To me it looks even more gimmicky then 3D. I would much rather have a Wii-mote type control for my TV allowing me conventional control options on the remote and increased interactivity on screen.
What I'd like to see is a gesture recognition of your hand on a mouse-
curve ball form will be treated as a grab on an invisible mouse, index finger movement will be recognized as a left mouse click, middle finger movement, right click; a sticking left or right finger would be accepted by the sensor as a long left or right mouse press.
That will be an ultimate gesture-controlled TV.
I must agree with the poster wondering why it's not a little more refined.
Working, as I sometimes do, from the target state backward, this is how I would envision a Gesture TV session:
I walk into the room.
The TV, recognizing me, and recognizing by facials that I'm not in a good mood, politely does nothing, remaining dark, but invisibly comes to attention, because experience has taught it the correct moves. The only external indication is that the word MIKE appears on the status bar in tiny print.
I'm sorting and opening mail. Occasionally I glance around the room, idly. whenever my glance crosses the TV, a small "eye" icon blinks beside my name. It knows who has eyes on it.
Done with the mail, I sit back, key the TV by looking at it, and say "Hit me," or one of a dozen other phraes or gestures that I and the TV have, over time, come to use for "I want to watch some TV. What's on?"
I don't like talking appliances, they're too much like HAL, so the TV just displays its prompts on the screen, in big friendly letters....
TV: GOOD EVENING, MIKE. YOU'RE A LITTLE LATE THIS EVENING. JEOPARDY! IS ALREADY IN PROGRESS. SHALL I:
-JUMP TO CHANNEL 36.1 (JEOPARDY!) LIVE?
-RESTART A DV OF CHANNEL 36.1 (JEOPARDY!) FROM 12 MINUTES AGO?
-OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Me: I hold up an open palm followed by a "one" sign, indicating "hold on one minute", because i need a bio-break first.
TV: TAKE YOUR TIME.
I would also think that "D-A-N" should, in a proper world, be extraordinary quick to put in, because a proper machine ought to recognize ASL or other sign-language fingerspellings and digits, at least.
There. There's a gauntlet down, who shall pick it up and design this beastie?
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