The team has fabricated a custom-designed printed circuit board (PCB) to house a filtering circuit, an amplifier and an analogue-to-digital converter. The micro-radars act as proximity sensors to capture muscle movements when the patient performs tongue gestures. Tongue-n-Cheek system then converts these movements into gestures using a novel signal-processing algorithm. Tests have showed that the system could decipher tongue gestures with 95 per cent accuracy and low latency.
Wish you a safe drive
Not having to fumble with buttons and levers would be a huge help for drivers and, understandably, auto-makers are exploring the use of gestures to control car functions. This was one of the prominent themes at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016) held at Las Vegas, USA, as well.
Intuitive infotainment. BMW showcased a few gesture controls in its 7-series, achieved through sensors on the cabin roof, monitoring the area near the infotainment panel. The controls, which experts have reviewed favourably, enable you to change the volume through a circular motion of the index finger, answer or dismiss a call by pointing straight or swiping right, and configure one other setting of your choice by swiping down two fingers.
BMW also showcased AirTouch, a futuristic UI implemented in its prototype Vision Car. Building on the existing gesture-recognition system, AirTouch lets both driver and passengers to control the car’s features with gestures using sensors that record 3D hand movements in the area ahead of the infotainment panel. The display is also rather large and panoramic, enabling users to point to required menu choices more easily.
AirTouch is intuitive, in the sense that it attempts to anticipate the next command and reduces the steps required by the driver to complete a task, with minimal distractions. For example, as soon as the driver activates the phone with a simple gesture, the system automatically opens the contacts list so that a call can be placed easily.
Volkswagen also demonstrated some gesture features like controlling the infotainment panel, opening and closing doors and more.
Effortless control through eye movements. Quantum Interface and EyeTech also unveiled technologies that could help intuitively control cars, gaming systems and other devices by simply moving the eyes. In a pre-CES interview, Jonathan Josephson, COO/CTO of Quantum Interface, commented, “Interacting with technology should be fun and easy. It should also be natural and intuitive. If you think about it, we look with our eyes to see what we want before we do anything else.”
Together with EyeTech, they unveiled what they claim to be the fastest and most natural way to interact inside the vehicle. Quantum Automotive Head-Up Display (QiHUD) is a solution that combines eye tracking and predictive technology for easier adjustment of controls while driving. The eye-tracker detects the direction of the eye movement, while user intent is predicted and confirmed with touch or voice.
Adjusting seats. Infotainment apart, another task that often distracts drivers is the pulling of levers to adjust seats. Scientists from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research and Isringhausen GmbH have developed a seat that can be moved and adjusted using simple gestures. The prototype seat features a gesture interface located in a panel along its side. To begin adjusting, drivers activate the system by pressing on the panel’s synthetic covering, which veils a piezoelectric sensor. This kind of on-off prevents the system from accidentally reading random hand gestures as commands.
Once the system is powered on, instructions are read using proximity sensors that detect changes in the surrounding electrical fields caused by the driver’s hand movements. Drivers can adjust the seat forwards or backwards, upwards or downwards, inclination of the thigh support or backrest simply by brushing fingers across the seat, which, in turn, activates the required motors. It is also possible to retrieve frequently-used settings by repeated pressing on the console. This is helpful in cases where a group of drivers use the same car. The researchers plan to commercialise the technology very soon. (Contd.)