Making the Kinect ‘finger-precise’ | KurzweilAI

A precise pointing interface (credit: 3Gear Systems)

3Gear Systems has announced a software development kit for adding gestures to applications, using your entire hand (fingers, thumbs, wrists and all) for user interaction.

“This is especially useful when you’re doing something 3D, say assembling 3D parts in Computer Aided Design (CAD), flying through a medical 3D MRI scan, or playing 3D games.

“With the rise of 3D printing and the Maker community, we’re especially interested in making it easier to create in 3D.”

3Gear Systems is using 3D camera hardware (e.g., the Microsoft Kinect) to make this possible.

Kinect limitations

First pointing system, invented by Doug Englebart, 1967 (credit: SRI International)

However, existing Kinect software only works on large, full-body motions.

So they’ve developed software that creates a finger-precise representation of what your hands are doing, capturing tiny motions of your index finger and subtle movements of the wrist.

This means your applications can use small, comfortable gestures such as pinching and pointing rather than sweeping arm motions, as with the standard Kinect software.

They developed new computer graphics algorithms for reconstructing the precise pose of the user’s hands from 3D cameras.

A key component of the algorithm is to use a database of pre-computed 3D images corresponding to each possible hand configuration in the workspace.

The input system uses two Kinect cameras and an aluminum frame for mounting the cameras (credit: 3Gear Systems)

The 3D image database is efficiently sampled and indexed to enable extremely fast searches. At run-time, the images from the 3D cameras are used to “look up” the pose of the hand using the database.

This way, the user’s hand pose can be determined within milliseconds — fast enough for interactive applications and a short enough time to avoid the effects of “lag” or high latency.

“Today, we’re releasing a “public beta” version of a software development kit (SDK) that allows you to quickly incorporate 3Gear’s technology into your applications or invent new uses of gestural user interfaces,” 3Gear said.

Here’s what it can do:

  • Intuitive 3D manipulation. 1-to-1 3D control of virtual objects. Users can grab objects and move them around in 3D with their hands.
  • Touchless (aseptic) control. Precise control of computer systems for dirty jobs.
  • Runs on commodity hardware. Uses two Kinect cameras and an aluminum frame for mounting the cameras. All of the components are available off-the-shelf right now.

“Our software is free for both non-commercial and commercial applications until the end of the beta period (November 30, 2012), 3Gear said. “After the beta period, we will continue to offer a free version of the software for researchers, hobbyists, and small commercial entities (i.e., annual turnover of US$100,000 or less).

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