You know what the world needs? Another company peddling their take on the touch interface as being "just like Minority Report!" Sun, Raytheon, Oblong -- it's a pretty obvious press hook (as well as a pretty awesome area of research), but every once in a while some such technology does come around that begs for a closer look. A collaboration between Sony Europe and Atracsys (a Swiss company specializing in optical tracking) ICU is a dual camera-based system that tracks and analyzes body movements in three dimensions, in real-time. Initially designed for use with a computer in a sterile operating theater, the interface not only notices subtle changes in the position of your body, arm, hand, or finger position, but it's also determine rough age, sex, or facial expression of the user. We're guessing that this bad boy has some novel gaming potential as well (count on the folks at Engadget to bring everything down to their level)! PR / videos after the break.


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Sony demonstrates revolutionary PC control interface at Vision 2009

Camera based system tracks 3D body movements for truly intuitive computer control

Sony Europe's Image Sensing Solutions (ISS) division has demonstrated a revolutionary PC control interface based on three dimensional vision cameras. The system, called ICU, analyses body movements and enables users to go beyond the mouse or touchscreen to interact more intuitively with a computer.

The technology is the first of its kind to be demonstrated and is the result of a collaboration between Sony ISS and Atracsys, a Swiss optical tracking specialist. The interface is able to detect and act upon any 'gesture' or body movement by tracking subtle changes in body, arm, hand or finger position. The ICU system is also sensitive enough to determine a user's approximate age, sex and emotion; recognising happiness, anger, surprise, sadness and neutrality.

The interface is based on two Sony ISS XCD-V60 cameras (tinyurl.com/SonyXCD-V60) linked together stereoscopically to create a 3D image. These high specification digital IEEE1394b cameras transmit image data at 90fps to a PC running Atracsys' proprietary video analysis software. Input from the cameras can be used to control a cursor, avatar or robot.

"ICU can be used in virtually any scenario, be it gaming, industrial, medical or retail," commented Gaëtan Marti, CEO at Atracsys. "Currently, we're receiving a lot of interest from retail marketing companies wanting to develop truly interactive shop window displays. In this application, a user pointing at a watch or electronic gadget, for example, could command the display of additional information from the web about the product, such as reviews, pricing information or technical specifications."

Arnaud Destruels, marketing manager at Sony ISS, said, "such interfaces were conceived many decades ago, with science fiction films using them to convey a futuristic feeling. The large time gap between conception and implementation highlights just how complex the task has been as well as the coding expertise at Atracsys."







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