Microsoft's Kinect may have put depth sensors in the eye of the common consumer, but they aren't the only outfit in the game -- Belgian startup SoftKinetic has their own twist on the distance sensing setup. The literally named "DepthSense" range sensor uses infrared time-of-flight technology, which according to representatives, allows it to not only accurately calculate depth-sensitivity in dark, cramped spaces, but more importantly offers a shallower operating distance than its competition. We dropped by SoftKinetic's GDC booth to see exactly how cramped we could get.
It turns out the sensor can accurately read individual fingers between four to fourteen feet (1.5 - 4.5 meters), we had no trouble using it to pinch our way through a few levels of a mouse-emulated session of Angry Birds. The developer hardware we saw on the show floor was admittedly on the bulky side, but if all goes to plan, SoftKinetic says we'll see OEMs stuff the tech into laptops and ARM-powered TVs in the near future. In the meantime, though, gesture-crazy consumers can look forward to a slimmer version of this rig in stores sometime this holiday season. Hit the break for a quick demo of the friendly sensor in action.