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Technology Lets You Command a Computer With Gestures

November 23, 2009 | Howard Lichtman

By Tom Kaneshige,

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.

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

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for in Silicon Valley. Send him an email at [email protected]. Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.

Note from HSL:  Christian Rishel, the Chief Strategy Officer at Oblong, came out to see me speak at PRESENCE 2009 in LA to tell me about their gesture interface which is already in production.  Dubbed G-Speak the system provides a "Minority Report" style HCI interface.  I pointed him in the direction of Marc Trachtenberg, Steve Gage, and Karl Krantz at Teliris who seem to be leading the industry in next generation HCI for telepresence environments with the Teliris TouchTable and the InterAct Easel.

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