One of the hottest developments in computer-human interaction is the emergence of touch-free, gesture-control technology – an area where Israel is a world leader. And it’s not only about iPhones and iPads. Herzliya-based eyeSight Technology is developing ways for users to control all manner of devices without pressing buttons or touching screens.
“The leading edge of technology today is gesture control, which allows users to control remote-control devices, cell phones, computers, car entertainment systems, TVs and all sorts of other devices and appliances by just moving their hands about,” eyeSight CEO Gideon Shmuel tells ISRAEL21c.
To that end, eyeSight has developed a platform for hands-free gesture control for home, gaming and industrial use. The platform, cleverly called eyeCan, lets users flick their fingers to interact with devices as diverse as in-car infotainment and navigation systems to cooking websites. No more taking your eyes off the road to change stations, or getting grease on your keyboard while creating in the kitchen.
The system also holds great potential for healthcare settings, where doctors and nurses can interact with medical devices and displays without touching them, thereby reducing the risk of spreading infection.
Currently, the premier use of gesture-control technology is in gaming, and Israeli companies provide much of the innovation in this field. Israeli startup PrimeSense supplies the gesture-control technology for the world’s most advanced hands-free gaming system, Microsoft’s Kinect. CamSpace is another Israeli company active in touch-free gaming, producing software that allows users to control games and other applications on their PCs via their webcams.
eyeSight has a special platform specifically for this area, called eyePlay. It is different than PrimeSense and CamSpace products, says Shmuel. “We offer a completely device-independent, software-based technology for hands-free movement.” As a result, eyeSight’s systems can be used with a plethora of devices, such as cell phones, and is easier for manufacturers to integrate into devices since it does not require specific hardware.
That’s one reason eyeSight has developed a platform specifically for Android devices and Windows-based portable computers. eyeSight’s Android solution utilizes the device’s built-in camera, advanced real-time image processing and machine vision algorithms to track the user’s hand motions and convert them into commands.
“Users of Android devices can now silence an incoming call, navigate between GPS menus, activate their MP3 player, play games and carry out many other tasks by simply swiping their hand over the device,” says Shmuel.
Advanced Android applications
eyeSight’s software-based approach is a big advantage in the Android world, where numerous manufacturers are using the operating system developed by Google to power cell phones, tablets and other devices. “The expected introduction of new Android devices with front-facing cameras by Motorola, HTC and Google will enable us to fully utilize the benefits offered by eyeSight technology. eyeSight’s solution enables users to control their phones and navigate in documents, web pages or maps by using gesture-recognition technology,” says Shmuel.
Herzliya-based eyeSight has been around since 2005. The company, with about 20 employees, has been funded by “angels and super-angels,” says Shmuel. However, he expects a steady revenue stream to develop over the coming months, as the company develops its offerings for Android phone and tablet manufacturers.
What it comes down to, says Shmuel, is a new and unique experience for users of all sorts of devices – not just those of a specific hardware manufacturer.
“We’re very excited about our Android offering,” he says. “Our technology enables playing by using hand motions emulating real-life actions such as throwing a ball, catching a boomerang, blocking an enemy’s attacks and more. The technology has been developed to work within many Android phones’ apps and provides a new, fun and exciting way for users to easily control their favorite activities.”