Microsoft researchers have developed a new gesture control system that can work on an everyday laptop, without the use of hardware like the Xbox or Windows Kinect sensor.
It uses the doppler effect and works in a similar fashion to submarine sonar. Using the PC's speakers, an inaudible tone is broadcast. When a human hand is waved in-front of the screen, or performs specific gestures, the frequency of that tone, picked up by the on-board microphone, changes.
While the gestures are quite rudimentary and won't be as detailed as the specific joint tracking abilities of hardware like the Kinect camera, this does offer basic gesture control to an everyday device. In the accompanying video, we're shown basic controls like moving through several music options, the locking of a laptop and the control of basic games like tetris.
It is also possible for music to be playing while using the SoundWave technology.
There are some concerns that the frequency could cause problems with children or animals with sensitive hearing, so the distance that the "inaudible" noise is projected would have to be very short. If not, there could also be issues with interefering frequencies from other devices using the same technology.
For now though this offers an interesting look into how gesture controls could become far more common place in every day life, without the need for mass expenditure.
Source: Microsoft Research