Today seems to be a pretty big day in the (previously small) world of touch-screen devices that you don’t actually touch. Microsoft has released a demo showcasing a technology called Touchless which allows an everyday webcam to emulate the functionality of an expensive multi-touch screen. They’ve also released an SDK for Touchless, allowing developers to start creating their own sorta-multi-touch apps.
Mike Wasserman, the creator of the Touchless, has released a video demonstrating the technology in action. The technique involves using the webcam to track the position of “markers” manipulated in the air or on the surface. In the video, Mike uses all sorts of things as markers, including stuffed toys and a lollipop, which makes it seem like anything sufficiently colorful can be used. The video shows off how Touchless can be used to manipulate photos, draw, and play some rudimentary multi-touch games like Pong.
So far, Touchless is just a neat demonstration of an idea. With the SDK released, though, we might see some very cool things built on the technology in the future.
Check out the video or try the demo for yourself and let us know what you think.
There are numerous companies that are currently working on technologies they hope would revolutionize the computer navigation landscape. Amongst the audacious researchers pioneering the touchless revolution is John Underkoffler, who owns a gesture tech start-up called Oblong Industries that recently raised $8.8 million in funding. Underkoffler has to his credit the honor of counseling the Minority Report crew regarding the depiction of futuristic technology in the movie.
Forbes reports that he is spearheading an utterly secretive project that deals with a touchless, gesture-based computer interface. All applications would be controlled merely by gestures.
But Oblong is not alone as alternative navigational interface industry leader Gesture Tek and gaming hardware manufacturers like OCZ Technologies, Neurosky, and Emotiv are also in the reckoning. Some of the researchers are really pushing the envelope with technologies that allow users to control applications and games using their gaze and even thought.