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back to article Hands up who wants 3D finger-controlled fridges? That's the spirit

Finger gestures in three dimensions are the next big thing in controlling computers, or so we're sadly told. The companies betting that we'll want to manipulate everything electronic around us with a wave of a hand are already laying claim to various types of body movement. The technology to detect gestures is included in …

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FAIL

Panopticon

Camera for gesture recognition + internet-connected appliance + typical security-hole-riddled system software = paradise for peeping toms and other spies.

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I can move a finger or two ...

Middle finger on this side of the pond. Index & middle on that side of the pond.

This kind of patent is patently stupid. The mind boggles.

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Anonymous Coward

This?

A wonderful idea to help fat people stay on the sofa, they will barely have to lift a finger to get what they want and conserve their calorific intake while watching TV or surfing the web.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This?

lift a finger? More like bat an eyelit. Is it a muscle twitch, or are you just pleased to see me?

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I'm patenting the clenched fist

and pull to open gesture.

On the throat of the next twat that tries to patent one of these.

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Re: I'm patenting the clenched fist

> aggressively patenting all sorts of gestures

This sort of stupidity is what gets people all heated up over patents.

Patenting a clever technology that allows gestures in general to be recogised is one thing, but allowing companies to patent each possible gesture as an individual item is just plain daft. We could do with sending a few choice gestures in the direction of the USPO.

<----

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Re: I'm patenting the clenched fist

> aggressively patenting all sorts of gestures

But probably not this one.

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"Slide to unluck"

I'm not really up on all this bollocks so I'm confused : what's the difference between that and the Samsung S3's "Swipe to unlock". Or am I using an illegal phone?

Anyway, in response to the request for opinions on gestures 'most useful in controlling my technology', my favourite is the meaningful stare while holding a hammer.

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Re: "Slide to unluck"

I carry, in my pocket, a jackknife that my Grandfather forged. It has a 5 inch blade. I have to press a little button and pull back a small guard before I can open the blade with a simple flick of the thumb or wrist.

My daughter carries a replica that I forged. She, in turn forged a replica that my granddaughter will be allowed to carry, assuming she turns out sane (she's not quite 3 years old).

All these "gestures" have been around since before there were tubes/transistors ...

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@Jake

Nice to hear someone is still keeping up metal forging as a skill!

As for anyone who down-votes you, ignore them, I've carried a pen-knife or multi-tool of some form or another since I was about 7 or 8!

But on your point, I agree the slide to unlock and similar patents are stupid, while i could agree if they have some form of technological solution patent that, but patenting an action itself? that is wrong and I am 99% sure would not be allowed in the EU (didn't Apples slide to unlock get thrown out recently?)

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Anonymous Coward

Slide to unlock patent invalid in Europe

As reported here earlier in the month:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/08/apple_slide_unlock_invalid_germany/

Just one of the many granted by the EPO but rejected by the courts.

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Mushroom

May all these companies die a slow and horrible death

unless someone else drops one of these on them first...

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FAIL

Crap

As title, and no where near as much fun as could be had with one of those casio watches that you could set up as a tv remote, managed to convince a teacher the tv and vcr was possessed with one of those....

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Yag
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Facepalm

<--- I'm patenting this gesture...

... for computer-controlled automated patent filling, application and prior art research.

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WTF?

Prior art...

I believe there is 'prior art' in the domain of 'putting this nonsense to rest'. Wasn't there a judgement reached regarding API's as 'unpatentable' or some such.

Seeing as the 'remote technology' is your hand or some combination of body parts shouldn't gesture control be considered as an API and therefore falls under the same judgement?

We can live in hope I suppose.

Otherwise consider the general sentiment coming from the responses so far agreed to wholeheartedly...

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Facepalm

Obvious isn't obvious?

"so there's an ongoing race to establish the most intuitive physical articulation for common actions"

They want to patent the gestures that are the most obvious ones for people to use for particular actions. And they want the 'invention' of these gestures to be patentable on the grounds that they are not obvious.

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Anonymous Coward

will they dare?

to patent all the gestures considered.... uhm... obscene? I'm sure there's a patent for that! :(

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Windows

Can i patent

a gesture where my left bi-pedic lower ambulation device delivers a size 12, steel capped (sharpened!) boot RIGHT up the the fundament of the utter bunch of twats devising this shit???

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Don't worry, the porn industry will kill it...

After all, they seem to drive every major technology adoption... and where's their market if you have to keep absolutely still while watching to avoid the channel changing?

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Re: Don't worry, the porn industry will kill it...

And how will they tell the difference between what someone may be doing when watching porn and a gesture used when, say, Peter Mandelson appears on screen?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't worry, the porn industry will kill it...

Er, am I the only one who wants to masturbate whenever I see Peter on TV? Sell me a passport, you naughty Prince of Darkness, and I'll give you a dodgy loan of some green, erm, white stuff...

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Re: Don't worry, the porn industry will kill it...

Viewer: Uggnnggn ....

TV: "You appear to be making an obscene gesture, please desist and your content will resume playing."

Viewer: Uh?

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Anonymous Coward

Fixed

And how will they tell the difference between what someone may be doing when watching porn and a gesture used when, say, David Cameron, Maggie Thatcher, Nick Clegg or George Osbourne appears on screen?

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MJI
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Re: Fixed

Urghh fancy w**king to DC or GO.

I can imagine SOME though would have to MT

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FAIL

With the current state of affairs (litigation), at what point do the deaf start getting charged with patent infringement?

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Yes, I was wondering about that. Maybe they'll just patent everything in ASL, and Yanks with hearing problems will all have to learn BSL?

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I'm slightly confused, who doesn't currently use 3 dimensions and finger controls to operate their fridge? Is there a huge number of people out there with flat, 2D fridges, pressing the buttons with their noses?

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Your fridge has buttons that you need to operate? Mine has a door, it opens and closes, and that's the nearest I get to "operating" it. It deoes also have a temerature dial inside but once set there is no need to change it.

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My fingers pick things up and deposit them in the fridge. At a later point, the same fingers pick things up and take them out of the fridge. This is operating a fridge.

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A gesture.

Description: Fore and middle finger placed horzintally to the temple. Thumb vertical. The thumb is then moved to the horizonal position.

Function: To change channel when anything that has been touched by Simon Cowell is on.

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Paris Hilton

Yeah, no great problem... There is nothing to stop the owner of a tv defining their own 3d gestures.

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Audible verbal gesture?

I presume it is not possible to patent the use of the phrase "Turn Off!" to turn off a television? So why should it be possible to patent a gesture that means the same thing? Sure you can patent the technology that interprets the gesture, but the gesture itself - what's the difference between that and a verbal command?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Audible verbal gesture?

"I presume it is not possible to patent the use of the phrase "Turn Off!" to turn off a television? So why should it be possible to patent a gesture that means the same thing? Sure you can patent the technology that interprets the gesture, but the gesture itself - what's the difference between that and a verbal command?"

Mills in Lawyers fees.

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Mushroom

<Extraordinarily heavy sarcasm>

Yes of course. Using a finger to lips to indicate "STFU" is totally novel, has never been used before, is certainly not in comon use elsewhere and there's no prior art for it.

</Extraordinarily heavy sarcasm>

Anyone care to explain why detecting that with a camera / sensor / whatever, before acting on it in the usually understood manner, is in any way different to doing so with eyeballs?

I'd like to patent the following gesture to mean "You can shove your shite patent where the sun shineth not": [Sticks two fingers up in the general direction of Tel Aviv].

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WTF?

Try this for a gesture

I think a two-finger salute to switch off the device would be most welcome.

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These patents are not designed to cultivate innovation

If anything, they seem specifically designed to prevent legitimate implementation.

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Unhelpful

How can anybody believe that this is useful. It can't possibly be in the interest of consumers having to remember different gestures to achieve the same result on different manufacturers' kit.

Say I have a certain brand of TV, and I've carefully learnt all the gestures required to control it. Maybe manufacturers will now see that I am locked in as I am less likely to want to relearn these skills if I switch to a different brand of TV. But the truth is that I (and vast numbers of people with less interest in learning arcane hand movements) will just not bother using these features, and will probably be more inclined to choose a brand that doesn't waste our time with them. All in all an own goal.

Imagine cars, if in the early days someone had patented 'using little sticks on the control column to operate the indicators' or 'moving the gear lever in an H pattern to move through a sequence of gears'. Nobody would have a clue what they were doing. Standardisation helps everybody, and rushing to patent obvious things just blocks the development of usable standards.

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Anonymous Coward

"I see you're having a wank."

"Would you like me to display some erotic shaped fruit?"

.

.

"Fuck off fridge!"

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It looks like you're trying to chill goods

What 3D gesture will I use to indicate that I want my refrigerator to inconspicuously maintain a steady temperature? Arms extended, palms out, slowly backing away?

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Prior art from the Hitch-Hiker's Guide...

"A loud clatter of gunk music flooded through the Heart of Gold cabin as Zaphod searched the sub-etha radio wave bands for news of himself. The machine was rather difficult to operate. 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. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure, of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program."

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Happy

Cease and Desist Response

I'd like my office printer to automatically generate a copy of our standard response to cease & desist letters when I 'raise the middle finger in a skywards direction with the knuckles of the hand facing the printing device'.

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Devil

I'm patenting doing anything at all

If you can prove somebody did the same thing as you before today, it counts as prior art, and my patent will be correspondingly restricted by the court. Otherwise, hand over the cash.

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DPR
Pint

With a wave of my pizza

How about gestures involving holding a slice of pizza or a can of beer so that channel surfing offers minimal interference with such couch based activities.

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MJI
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Prior art

Hmm some of those I think are already in use and we are talking big companies.

Both MS with Kinect and Sony with PS Eye/Eyetoy are seperating the player from the background. So how can it get patented?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prior art

That PointGrab one seems to have been filed at about the same time the Kinect was released, too... which implies that any tech demos of the Kinect working would seem to be prior art even without searching very hard.

The actual workings of the Kinect and the software that underpins it are not actually that novel (all 80s computer vision stuff... its the fact the Kinect/Xbox can do it in real time that's the clever bit) so there are probably reams of papers going back decades covering the same stuff. The fact that the patent was allowed in the first place is embarassing, and given the long history of computer vision and gesture recognition research I don't really see how a specific gesture could be claimed to be a significant inventive step that advances the state of the art.

Meanwhile the rest of the industry is held back by this sort of stupidity. Wonderful.

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MJI
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Re: Prior art

Also thinking of children playing a Lemmings PS2 game, camera again.

Definately prior art

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Boffin

Obvious

I'd like a gesture where you can change channels, and volume, simply by moving your thumb tiny, effortless amounts.

Might be a bit hard to pick up with current cameras, so a small device might need to be held in the hand to relay the gestures. Might have space for a few dozen more commands too that can be performed similarly effortlessly.

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FAIL

"no one except Apple can make a phone with a "slide to unlock" feature,"

What ? My Desire HD has that.

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Slide to unlock

My 1950s radio has that for the lid.

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Re: Slide to unlock

I see you 1950s radio and raise you the sliding bolt, proundly implementing "slide to unlock" functionality for many civilisations for at least the last 3000 years of human history.

http://www.historicallocks.com/en/site/hl/Other-locks/Locks-of-wood-and-iron/Sliding-bolt-locks/

Exactly how much prior art is needed do you think?

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