MIT unveils Minority Report-style 'gestural interface'

New technology lets you command a computer with hand gestures

What's the latest buzz among software engineers and computer geeks in Silicon Valley? Aside from the newly released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, it's a video released earlier this week of Pranav Mistry talking about the next big thing--SixthSense technology.

Mistry, an MIT grad student, has been working on SixthSense, a project that has created a prototype of a wearable gestural interface. Like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, a person wears sensors on his fingers to interact with a computer. Only this time he's not looking at a computer screen, rather everyday objects like books.

SixthSense is the opposite of virtual reality. That is, virtual reality submerses a person in the digital world. SixthSense turns the tables and enables the digital world to shine a light on the real world. Communication in this computing environment happens with everyday human gestures.

Imagine wearing sensors on your fingertips that understand gestures and a camera-equipped, image-projector system hanging around your neck. With SixthSense, you can draw on any surface, including your hand, check email by making an "@" symbol with your finger in the air, take pictures simply by framing an image with your hands, watch a video or read news displayed on a regular piece of paper, among other amazing feats.

Here's the video.

The current prototype system costs approximate US$350 to build, according to the SixthSense site.

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Tom Kaneshige

CIO (US)
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