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Google Works On Kinect-Like Interface For Android

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the operating-phones-becomes-more-like-voodoo dept.

Android 49

bizwriter writes "A patent filing made public last week suggests that Google may be trying to implement a motion-detection interface, like Microsoft Kinect, for portable electronic gadgets. The patent application is for technology that turns a mobile device's camera into a motion-input system. In other words, it could be goodbye to fingerprints and streaks on the front of your tablet or smartphone. Google could incorporate such a feature into Android in general or keep it as a differentiating advantage for its acquisition of Motorola."

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More sales (4, Funny)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300945)

I get it. They're following the Wii model:

Rapid gesticulation to control device
Accidentally throw device across room
Have to buy new device to replace broken one

Re:More sales (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301383)

I LOLed. :-)

Except the throwing the device across the room usually isn't "accidental". ;-) The Wii control frustrates me to no end, especially when trying to play a rapid-paced game like Metroid Prime 3 or Sonic. I wish I could go back to using the gamecube controller because it is more precise & registers my inputs 99.999% of the time. (The wii control is more like 90% of the time, which is lousy.)

Re:More sales (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301511)

You just know WP7 gesture control is going to involve throwing chairs across the room.

Re:More sales (1)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304719)

Or by sweating on the phone.

Re:More sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302173)

This will never work; every plan ending in profit has to have a distinct entry "??" applied immediatly before the profit.

Re:More sales (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302931)

I recently saw some people trying Samsung TVs with gesture control. Flailing your arms about while seated in a deep couch is hard, you look like an idiot and the person next to you gets punched in the face every time you change channel.

The phone version sounds ideal for use on public transport.

Couple questions... (2)

awshidahak (1282256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39300951)

So... what do you do? Set your phone on the table while you danec in front of it to send a text message? It's cool on the kinect, but seems weird on android. Also, shouldn't they be putting more energy into changing the name of google play store back to android market?

Re:Couple questions... (4, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301233)

I suspect more like: "wave hand in front of phone instead of swiping". You'll probably still have to type on the screen or get a hardware keyboard, but this could free up some of the constant tapping and swiping across your viewing surface that you need to do for even the grossest control movement on a phone or tablet. Between this and improved dictation you could remove most of the need to touch the screen, but you're not going to completely eliminate it without a either a physical keyboard of someone coming up with a completely new paradigm.

Re:Couple questions... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301473)

I agree. 10 hours a day of waving my hand in front of my workscreen or phone would exhaust me. I am fundamentally-lazy and prefer to make as little movement as possible (i.e. use a mouse). I became an engineer because I wanted to find easier, simpler ways of doing things (less work) and waving my arms around like Tom Cruise in minority report is not easier. It looks very tiring.

I've also noticed in Star Trek TNG or DS9 whenever they want to do real work, they put down the PADD and transfer the screen to a desktop (or laptop) with keyboard. It would be ideal if we could reach a similar level in curent technology where work could be freely transferred between the Phone and PC.

Re:Couple questions... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303377)

You use/swipe/touch your phone for 10 hours straight? Your fingers must be raw. ;)

Re:Couple questions... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301243)

So... what do you do? Set your phone on the table while you danec in front of it to send a text message? It's cool on the kinect, but seems weird on android. Also, shouldn't they be putting more energy into changing the name of google play store back to android market?

Now come on. Clearly we'll all have to learn Sign Language in order to communicate with our phones, which is going to be tough to do while holding the phone if the sign requires two hands (unless, of course, your name is Zaphod).

Re:Couple questions... (3, Interesting)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301867)

Well, if you were deaf, this would be one easy way to have real-time communication with someone. Getting a table mount for it would be the least of your concerns.

Re:Couple questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39303701)

Where I think it will be the most useful is in GoogleTV devices. Currently, apps on GoogleTV devices are limited to keyboard/mouse entry and mouse entry is discouraged. With a Kinect-like interface, apps could use gestures and an emulated mouse could play a much larger role in the user interface.

If you think of Android as being just a mobile phone, something like this doesn't make a lot of sense. But when you consider the breadth of the Android environment, it makes a lot more sense in other contexts.

How fun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39300983)

Hold phone close to read.
Move phone back and gesture at it.
Hold phone close to read that the gesture didn't work.
Move phone back and gesture at it ...repeat x times

Throw phone, gesture is recognized.

Re:How fun! (1, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301127)

These days they can do wonders for myopics like you. There are glasses, contact lenses or they can fry your eyes with lasers.

Re:How fun! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301195)

I wish I had mod points.

And there was a "-1: retard"

Fingerprints (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301037)

This is something I can't get my head around.

People, me included, spend hundreds of pounds on a phone and then worry about it getting damaged, forgetting the fact that it'll be replaced for free when they renew their contract two years down the line. People, not me, spend money on ugly cases that turn their phone into something that no longer looks like an expensive phone. Hundreds of pounds for engineered hard plastic, metal and gorilla glass, for what?

Me? I keep my S2 in my jeans pocket, without coins and keys. I have no case for it and yet it looks as good as the day I bought it, four months ago.

Fingerprints are wiped off over the course of the day through jiggling in my pocket and my phone still looks classy and thin with no case.

I ponder.

Re:Fingerprints (3, Informative)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301091)

It's not everywhere you phone is free. I purchased a Nokia N900 (it's from 2009), used, for half a months salary here. And I'm pretty much middle class as well. So I'd rather take care of it, since buying another in two years is out of the question.

Re:Fingerprints (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301119)

Please don't mess with the comments of rich people.

Re:Fingerprints (2)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39309555)

That is excessive. I hope you are single and childless. Otherwise,you are irresponsible.

Re:Fingerprints (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39325741)

I am single, childless, AND irresponsable! :)

Re:Fingerprints (1)

singhulariti (1963000) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301183)

Agree. I've never bought a protective case for my phone. Kind of voids the whole point of buying a 'sexy' looking phone!

Re:Fingerprints (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302067)

I got my Nexus - S from best buy.
For the same price as a screen and case I got a replacement plan. SO if it becomes damaged, I can replace it. This means I don't worry as much and just keep it in my back pocket.

As an added bonus: I paid 99 dollars for the phone, and if I take it back to best buy I get a 119 dollar gift card.

I do occasional buy custom back pieces. My last one Had Dr venture on it.

Processing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301053)

seems like all this extra processing would really do in a mobile device.

Great... (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301075)

Great- so now I have to memorise the riverdance choreography to unlock my phone for use?

I am predicting strange looks from my coworkers.

Re:Great... (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301463)

At least it'll be easy to get to the customer service line of your carrier, you'll just give the phone the finger.

Omni-tools (1)

Andrio (2580551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301093)

Excellent. Smart phones will be one step closer to becoming omni-tools from Mass Effect. Now we just need to figure out how to do holographic projections, to have 3D images and interfaces that we can synchronize to the motion-input of these kinect-like controls.

Same stuff, different device (3, Interesting)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301101)

From Claim 1 of the patent filing:

A method of controlling a portable electronic device including an image capturing device, the method comprising: detecting, via the image capturing device, motions of an object over the image capturing device; determining a type of the detected motions using timing information related to the detected motions, the timing information comprising duration of at least one of the detected motions; and controlling the portable electronic device based on the determined motion type.

Claim 2 then says:

The method of claim 1, wherein the type of the detected motions comprises single tapping, double tapping, hovering, holding and swiping.

Then there is a lot of refinement, talking about edge detection, direction of movement, the usual definition of a computing device with memory, and finally kicking off predetermined actions based on recognized motions.

But look at Claim 2: "... comprises single tapping, double tapping, hovering, holding and swiping." To me, this patent seems to be a simple extrapolation of the gestures Apple made popular with their mobile UI, with the addition of "hovering" (assuming I understand the definition of that word, here). Same gestures, different input control.

Is there a significant difference between, say, swiping across a phone's screen and making the same gesture a few inches away? (I'm thinking that if the device interpreted motions from a larger distance then the only thing that will reliably happen is a serious of hilarious DoS attacks via interpretive dance.)

Re:Same stuff, different device (2)

bigredswitch (622835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301341)

Also sounds like the stuff from eyeSight. I used this a few years ago (on Symbian): []

Re:Same stuff, different device (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39302187)

Is there a significant difference between, say, swiping across a phone's screen and making the same gesture a few inches away?

Maybe, maybe not, but this probably isn't about even "a few inches away". Look at claim 3: "The method of claim 1, wherein detecting motions comprises: receiving images from the image capturing device, each of the received images is associated with a motion of the object; determining an illumination level for each of the received images; comparing each of the determined illumination level to a predetermined threshold; and determining, for each received image, if the associated motion is a touch motion where the object touches on the image capturing device or a release motion where the object releases or stays away from the image capturing device based on the comparison." (emphasis added)

It looks like the main focus here is to develop a system where if you have a camera with the right orientation and field of view, you don't need a touchscreen, you can use a non-touch display and still interact with it in much the same way as a touchscreen. This has the potential for lowering the cost of portable devices while providing essentially the same user experience compared to touchscreen devices.

In addition to the kinds of devices that commonly have touch screens now, this could be used anyplace you are likely to have a display and a camera together where the additional cost of making the display touch would usually be prohibitive to provide a touch-like interface in addition to whatever existing control interface exists -- netbooks and traditional laptops (even desktop displays) would be an obvious use, giving you swipe-and-tap capability which could be convenient for more "consumptive" activities, while still keeping a traditional interface for more "productive" activities.

Re:Same stuff, different device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39304587)

Aren't most of apple's patents things that have been done before, but slapped with the suffix "on a mobile device"?

Wait, this is serious? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301121)

I mean, I knew they were working on Gmail Motion [] , but I though they left that idea when it stopped being April 1st.

Re:Wait, this is serious? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301845)

You beat me to it. Of course, someone's already implemented this using a Kinect []

April Fools? (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301135)

Wasn't this an April Fools prank of theirs a while back?

I, Phone (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301147)

I see it now.

I, Phone.

The first rule of Phone-botics. Never ask for any gestures from a human to unlock the phone that could hurt a human.

patents s*ck again (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301169)

So basically they patent a decent motion detection algorithm, and they can do so just because it's used for controlling a portable electronic device including an image capturing device. How innovative. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against Google on this, such a feature could be great. But now everyone who was thinking on doing anything on android that would use visual motion information (which, surprise, comes from images through the camera) can go find something else to do. Well, businness as usual.

Re:patents s*ck again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301315)

I'm on the verge of doing a search of the patent database for everything that includes the phrase "on a tablet" and submitting patent applications for each with the new scope of "using nanobots." I figure I'll either get rich, be marked as a villain in tech circles, or get some attention from the big players leading to a legal precident that voids their stupid patents.

Maybe if I could get one with the phrase "while falling past a star at over 25km/sec" I could usurp the existing patents directly!

Simple gestures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301247)

A sartorial, restrained lateral hand motion, accompanied with "These are not the Droids you're looking for."

Sign Language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39301369)

It would be awesome if they implemented "International Sign" as the method used to communicate with the device. Imaging everyone in the world would have a common communication language which even deaf people could use. When you didn't have your device you would still be able to communicate.

Motion detection UI already exists for Nokia N9 (1)

Wizzu (30521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39301787)

This is not the first such UI, there's already an existing gesture UI for Nokia's N9 phone. Relatively simple and experimental, but still. []
I have not tried it myself.

Full disclosure: I work for Nokia, even though I've not had anything to do with this particular software.

Seriously, nobody else realized this?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302125)

What a convenient excuse to keep the user-facing camera on all the time, and of course the data must pass through google's servers and then end up being stored indefinitely for "analysis and detection algorithm improvement".

Fuck them.

Does google do anything original? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39302585)

Yet another mediocre google me too product. Gee I hope it is as awesome as Google+

False positives (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303415)

As with voice, giving casual input to the detector that could be interpreted and acted on, even if not meant for the phone, is a potential danger.

I hope this is just a funny joke (2, Insightful)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39303455)

Because otherwise, Smartphones and Tablets really are getting out of control.

I thought -- and still do -- think its stupid to have a speech interface for a phone. I mean you look stupid talking to a robot woman on your phone. The last thing I want to do is start dancing in front of my phone.

"Give me a sec, I have to do the shuffle to unlock my phone, and then the achy-breaky to open my email."

I'm actually pretty happy with smart phone interfaces these days, just the way things are..

Re:I hope this is just a funny joke (1)

x1r8a3k (1170111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39304851)

Voice interfaces have their place. For example, I can use speech recognition on my phone to say "Navigate to 123 Main St City State" much faster than I can go to the nav app, tap the search button, and type it in.

However, you don't have to use it. You can still do it all through taps and typing. I'm sure this motion interface will be completely optional too, so just ignore it.

Re:I hope this is just a funny joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39306351)

It works for you. You probably have an American accent. For the rest of us, it's just as fast to say it, but there's no guarantee the nav app will recognise anything on the first few tries or even that it won't take you somewhere else entirely.

Your holding it wrong! (2)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#39305109)

Poor cellphones.

At first, they were held like normal phones, up to your ears.

Then came text messaging, and everyone was typing on a keypad.

Then came little keyboards, so were weren't using the number pads.

Then we got rid of the keyboards and used the screen for typing.

Now they want us to hold the phone in front of us with 1 hand,while waving our hand (like a magician or something) in front of the phone.

Wtf happened to using a phone like a fucking phone?

Though I have to give props to google here, chasing a patent before everyone else, since this is the next step.

but what happened to voice control? It's a phone, we talk into it, why not actually control it with our voice? Shit, i better get that idea patented...

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39308277)

I think I've already seen things like this demonstated on informercial channels. Like having a laptop where you play tennis with your hands using the webcam. Am I missing something here?

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