Anyone who calls themselves a tech junkie is probably familiar with the name Pranav Mistry; this MIT engineer is considered one of the world’s ten best inventors of our time. Pranav invented an invisible computer mouse, intelligent/smart sticky notes (that send reminders and messages), a pen that can draw in 3D, but of most interest to me and for purposes of this article, ‘SixthSense’.
Awarded the 2009 invention award, SixthSense is a portable intuitive gestural interface device that links the physical world to the digital world-basically mining digital information and painting the physical world with it. Imagine you wanted to take a picture of the beautiful sunset as you waited at a traffic light, with SixthSense all you would do is hold a camera and take a picture and you actually have a picture! You could then go home and edit this picture (cropping, etcetera) using your bedroom wall as a screen/interface. If you are not itching all over yet, it gets better…By scribling out the ‘@’ symbol with your finger, you can check your mail or check the time by drawing a circle on your wrist-those are just a few things this technology entails.
Still at the prototype stage, the SixthSense comprises a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera that all work in tandem with a mobile computing device such as a smart phone. The device is wearable as a pendant and your phone can remain your pocket or purse.
The projector projects visual information enabling surfaces such as walls to be used as interfaces while the camera tracks a user’s hand gestures and physical objects. The Value Added Beauty (I just created the phrase!) of SixthSense is the fact that it supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction.
The software program that links the devices together processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of coloured markers (using visual tracking fiducials) at the tips of the four main fingers and their movement is interpreted as interaction instructions for theprojected application interfaces. Good news to all the app developers out there: The Media Lab at MIT has made it clear that when the source code is ready for release, it will be under Open Source!
For a video of Pranav Mistry demonstrating this technology, check out:http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html
In imaging technology, a fiducial refers to an object used in the field of vision of an imaging system as a point of reference.
The author is interested in emerging technologies and their impact on business and society. She is a postgraduate student in Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (USA).