Thursday, July 22, 2010

This is Called Sixth Sense - 6thSense

Posted by kutty Thursday, July 22, 2010, under | No comments


There was always a question of whether a sixth sense can be developed, which could help us to access any information that exists somewhere, that may be relevant to help us to take right decisions about anything that we come across. We may have a question in mind that don’t the today’s cell phones do this? Yes, but not really! For instance as soon we come across any unknown product in a super market or elsewhere we don’t take out cell phone and Google the product to find whether it’s a responsible purchase to make. Hence we can see that there is no easy access to relevant information to make a proper decision. The research group at the MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Labs, USA are researching on the sixth sense, which provides ease of access to any relevant information at any time.

'Sixth Sense' is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information. We have evolved over millions of years to sense the world around us. When we encounter something, someone or some place, we use our five natural senses to perceive information about it; that information helps us make decisions and chose the right actions to take. But arguably the most useful information that can help us make the right decision is not naturally perceivable with our five senses, namely the data, information and knowledge that mankind has accumulated about everything and which is increasingly all available online. Although the miniaturization of computing devices allows us to carry computers in our pockets, keeping us continually connected to the digital world, there is no link between our digital devices and our interactions with the physical world. Information is confined traditionally on paper or digitally on a screen. Sixth Sense bridges this gap, bringing intangible, digital information out into the tangible world, and allowing us to interact with this information via natural hand gestures. ‘Sixth Sense’ frees information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality, and thus making the entire world your computer.



Image showing parts of the sixth sense

The Sixth Sense prototype is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. The hardware components are coupled in a pendant like mobile wearable device. Both the projector and the camera are connected to the mobile computing device in the user’s pocket. The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and physical objects around us to be used as interfaces; while the camera recognizes and tracks user's hand gestures and physical objects using computer-vision based techniques. The software program processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of the colored markers (visual tracking fiducials) at the tip of the user’s fingers using simple computer-vision techniques. The movements and arrangements of these fiducials are interpreted into gestures that act as interaction instructions for the projected application interfaces. The maximum number of tracked fingers is only constrained by the number of unique fiducials, thus Sixth Sense also supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction.


Image showing the person organizing his photos on the wall

The Sixth Sense prototype implements several applications that demonstrate the usefulness, viability and flexibility of the system. The map application lets the user navigate a map displayed on a nearby surface using hand gestures, similar to gestures supported by Multi-Touch based systems, letting the user zoom in, zoom out or pan using intuitive hand movements. The drawing application lets the user draw on any surface by tracking the fingertip movements of the user’s index finger. Sixth Sense also recognizes user’s freehand gestures (postures).


Image showing the zoom in and out using hand gestures.

clip_image009clip_image011 For example, the SixthSense system implements a gestural camera that takes photos of the scene the user is looking at by detecting the ‘framing’ gesture. The user can stop by any surface or wall and flick through the photos he/she has taken. SixthSense also lets the user draw icons or symbols in the air using the movement of the index finger and recognizes those symbols as interaction instructions. For example, drawing a magnifying glass symbol takes the user to the map application or drawing an ‘@’ symbol lets the user check his mail. The SixthSense system also augments physical objects the user is interacting with by projecting more information about these objects projected on them. For example, a newspaper can show live video news or dynamic information can be provided on a regular piece of paper. The gesture of drawing a circle on the user’s wrist projects an analog watch.


Even the hand can be used as a surface for projection. The cost of this prototype equipment is presently $350 (about Rs16,000). In future this device in mass production may cost less than the present mobile phones. The present design of the sixth sense could be modified such that it resembles a stylish pendant. The sixth sense is developed at the MIT Media Labs by an Indian genius researcher Pranav Mistry under the guidance of Pattie Maes. Further research is going on to make the sixth sense a part of everyone.





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