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back to article Microsoft digs Doppler to effect gesture detection

Microsoft Research took motion detection to new levels this week when it unveiled a new gesture recognition system for laptops. Called SoundWave, the rig utilises the Doppler effect, picking up subtle changes in sound wave frequencies to calculate how a user's hand is moving in front of a laptop. It's said to work even in noisy …

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If only

If only MS would stop making shitty concept videos and showing woefully unfinished tech and instead finish it, polish it, and ship it in a product. Tell us about it when we can buy it, not 30 minutes after you've thought of it!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If only

No pleasing some people. One of the positive things that can be said about Microsoft is the hundreds of millions they spend on researching innovative ideas without tying the research to product development timescales or money making activities. Then publishing and sharing information rather than hiding it all in a secret base beneath a dormant volcano until the killer product is designed.

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JDX
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Re: If only (@Chris19)

You mean like the Kinect?

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Megaphone

Re: If only

Agree, this habit of tech vendors playing consumers along with 12 month teases is tiresome (eg PS Vita). Sure, this is research & perhaps needs some exposure to garner feedback but I subscribe to the 'gut instinct' philosphy: if you believe it, just do it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If only

Is that so that you can bitch about MS never innovating anything and these sort of videos are inconvenient to your view of the company?

Where are the Red Hat, Cannonical, SuSe, etc equivalents of this sort of research?

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Pint

Dogs all over the world will be going crazy when they hear their owners laptop making noises like that!!

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"an inaudible tone between 18[kHz] and 22kHz"

Cue logs of dogs barking at laptops and small children complaining about a noise their parents can't hear.

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Indeed.

Put an 18khz noise out loud enough and I can hear it, and I'm in my 30s. I know the shops that have those stupid, ineffectual "anti-chav" sonic weapons installed on their premises because they affect me too. It's like sitting next to a really loud, broken cathode ray tube. Nice to know I'm having my hearing potentially damaged and it's all okay because it's been scientifically tested, and stuff.

Make the noise closer to 40khz or so and you'll be safely out of the range of human hearing, but good luck to anybody with a pet who buys one of these.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Indeed.

It's a good job this isn't a finished product, then isn't it?

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Re: Dogs

Err, kilohertz, not hertz.

40khz is well into the ultrasonic. 44.1khz is the sampling rate of a compact disk.

Maybe I should have said 40,000hz?

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an inaudible tone between 18[kHz] and 22kHz

And I though the days of annoying high-pitched tones would be over with the death of the Cathode Ray Tube. Count on some bleeding engineers to fill the free bandwidth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Indeed.

Unfortunately, very few laptop's sound systems will be able to generate a frequency that high - most computer audio cards have the reconstruction filters' corner frequency at 20kHz.

But I agree: For those of us who wear hearing protection when we (attend concerts|mow the yard|fly|shoot) and still can hear up there, this would be, shall we say, less than desirable.

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This has possibilities

Will it Hibernate if you wave 'bye' to it, or Shut Down if you flick 'V's at it?

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JDX
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Cool

I'm not too convinced I want gesture recognition on my laptop, but I certainly applaud the research.

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Happy

I frequently make gestures at my laptop..........

...........although whether those gestures would be any use controlling the os is another matter!

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There's only a few gestures I need Microsoft to recognise and none of them have anything to do with controlling my computer.

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Anonymous Coward

Points to ponder...

Are the speakers on most laptops capable of outputting 18-22kHz? Are the mics capable of picking it up?

It's supposed to work while you are playing music. Will the location tone be a nice sharp square wave, for maximum possible intermodulation distortion?

It will work on a laptop - the mic and speakers are in known positions. With a desktop? (ie will moving the speakers require recalibration?)

If you plug in headphones, is your head sufficiently acoustically transparent, and stationary, to allow continued operation/ (hint - no)

So, nice demoware, but I suspect reliable realworld operation will require dedicated transducers (which is not a barrier, but not quite as advertised)

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Re: Points to ponder...

I'm sure M$ are considering those very points, and no doubt many more. The whole point of research is to find out what is possible, and how. And if it's not possible, what needs to be done/invented to make it possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And if it's not possible

True - but when you start plugging in dedicated transducers, then you are pretty close to some offerings that you can actually buy today. Not so much 'invention' as 'rediscovery'...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And if it's not possible

Really? Where are these devices, I certainly haven't heard of them...

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Headmaster

Re: And if it's not possible

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/ultrasonic-proximity-sensors/2370799/

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/ultrasonic-proximity-sensors/2370783/

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Holmes

Re: Points to ponder...

but here's the thing - I move my hand towards a device at say, 2 m/s - speed of sound is 330m/s

the observed frequency is (330+2)/(330+0) x actual frequency, f, say 1.005 f

(the zero in the bottom line assumes you are not throwing your laptop across the room in frustration)

It's a long time since I've done any serious digital filtering but it isn't going to happen using active analogue. Perhaps someone more up to date than me can advise on the feasibility

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And if it's not possible

@Gerryg - ultrasonic transducers are pretty standard, the software that understands your flicking your hands about and how to interpret that from arrays of sensors isn't.

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Re: And if it's not possible

@AC 16.31 GMT - was discussing the signal conversion... the prior problem to interpretation - an IRL problem

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FAIL

Obvoious really.

They had to find some way of making the touchy, slidey, wavey Metro interface work on the desktop somehow. A touchscreen monitor and leaning across the desk isn't it.

They're still going to be disappointed when the Corp market refuses point blank to ditch millions of 4:3 screens in favour of doppler enabled, handwaft-detecting widescreen ones en masse though.

A USB waft sensor might do the trick if it were cheap enough, but there's still the pesky problem of the fact that it's as widescreen fixated as the office ribbon to consider.

Also: "...an inaudible tone between 18 and 22kHz...". The countdown to a class action lawsuit from those claiming it gives 'em a headache, if there's the chance of a quick buck in it, starts now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Obvoious really.

Ah, you nearly managed to sneak a "you kids get your pesky 16:10 off my lawn" post in as on-topic, nice try :)

(Hint: Genie isn't going back in the bottle, also flares and analogue VGA aren't coming back any time soon)

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Re: Genie isn't going back in the bottle

Well obviously there could be no *technical* justification to bring back flares, but I don't trust these fashionistas.

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Microsoft, here to help you

You seem to be banging your head on the keyboard. Do you need any help with that?

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Facepalm

This Far and no DA Quote?

"For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope."

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