3D not just for TVs, but gesture control too

A prototype system allows users to control a computer in 3D

3D glasses may soon be a thing of the past, courtesy of the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications' research.

3D glasses may soon be a thing of the past, courtesy of the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications' research.

As 3D imaging emerged as a theme at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications took the technology a step further and presented its research on 3D gesture control.

Called the iPoint 3D, the hardware and software components allow two hands to control actions on a screen in three dimensions. The interactive exhibit allows users to view 3D images without special glasses and to manipulate virtual objects without a remote control, according to Paul Chojecki, a researcher at the Berlin-based institute.

The institute showed how the technology works with a game of ping pong.

Two players stand about 3 meters away from a Philips 3D television and extend their hands. Above the players, on the ceiling, is a hardware unit that contains two cameras, a bank of infrared lights and a laser. The laser shines down and creates a reference point for players to line their wrists up with. Then as users move their hands the cameras capture the motion and the virtual ping-pong paddles respond accordingly.

The Fraunhofer Institute added the third dimension in the past year. At IFA 2008 a similar prototype was on display, but could only accommodate one user and only worked in a 2D plane. While they have come a long way in a year, Chojecki said that they still have more work to do.

"Right now we have a limited number of gestures that we can detect and that also make sense....We have to ask the users what do they do, what do they want and then we can work with that," he said.

The technology is still in the research phase so there are no plans for commercialization.

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