Look Out Natal: Ugly Gloves Yield Cool Gesture Tech

While Microsoft’s Project Natal Xbox 360 add-on has been rumored to have a price tag of around $200, MIT researchers have created a gesture-based computer interface that requires only a cheap pair of colored Lycra gloves (in addition to a webcam).

Billed as low-latency, Grad student Robert Wang, from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory sees the most “obvious application” for the invention as videogames.

The technology, as noted on MIT’s website, is based on “a new algorithm for rapidly looking up visual data in a database.”

Colors used on the gloves were specifically chosen so that they could easily be distinguished from each other by the computer.

A quick explanation of how it works:

Once a webcam has captured an image of the glove, Wang’s software crops out the background, so that the glove alone is superimposed upon a white background. Then the software drastically reduces the resolution of the cropped image, to only 40 pixels by 40 pixels.

 

Finally, it searches through a database containing myriad 40-by-40 digital models of a hand, clad in the distinctive glove, in a range of different positions. Once it’s found a match, it simply looks up the corresponding hand position.

While early versions of the technology took up to half-an-hour to calibrate, advancements implemented by the MIT team have reduced that figure to about “three seconds.”

Plus, if you happen to already possess a Technicolor Dreamcoat, the gloves might serve as a fashionable accessory.

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