Electronica: Microchip shows 3D gesture control technology

Microchip has demonstrated for the first time at Electronica in Munich this week a gesture-based, non-contact user interface which it claims has the lowest power consumption of any 3D sensing technology.

The technology, which is called GestIC, has been implemented in an electrical-field-based, configurable 3D gesture controller, the MGC3130, with a power consumption as low as 150 microwatts in its active sensing state.

It has the potential to enable the use of always-on 3D gesture recognition in battery-powered products.

The technology is based on an on-chip library, called the Colibri Suite, of intuitive and natural human gestures.

“The Colibri Suite combines a stochastic Hidden Markov model and x/y/z hand position vectors to provide designers with a reliable set of recognised 3D hand and finger gestures that can be easily employed in their products,” said a spokesman for Microchip.

Example gestures include Wake-Up on Approach, Position Tracking, Flick Gestures, Circle Gestures and Symbol Gestures to perform functions such as on/off, open application, point, click and zoom.

The controller connects to a thin sensing electrodes made of any conductive material, such as PCB traces or a touch sensor’s Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) coating.

The 70-130kHz electric-field uses frequency hopping to eliminate RF interference, and resistant to ambient light and sound interference.

“The technology provides 100% surface coverage, eliminating “angle of view” blind spots found in other technologies,” said the spokesman.

According to Microchip, it is already working with input-device and other product manufacturers to implement new user-input controls. Example applications include keyboards that take advantage of the advanced interface capabilities in the new Windows 8 operating system, using hovering motions and free-space gesture controls, instead of reaching over to touch a screen.

The MGC3130 3D gesture interface and hand position tracking at a distance of 15cm.

It has 150 DPI, mouse-like resolution, and a 200 Hz sampling rate to sense fast hand and finger motions.

Samples of Microchip’s MGC3130, featuring GestIC technology, are available today in a 5×5 mm 28-pin QFN package. Volume production is expected in April 2013.


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