Microsoft working on sound waves-based Kinect-like controller

Microsoft is said to be working on a new Kinect-like controller that would negate the requirement for additional hardware. According to a report by ZDNet, Microsoft Research has developed a new controller which detects in-air gestures around the device using the Doppler Effect. Microsoft has christened this project as SoundWave. Kinect had a sensor bar, while SoundWave will use the existing speakers and microphone built into a PC or notebook, which can detect gestures.

Soundwaves negate additional hardware

Soundwaves negate additional hardware


The speakers are capable of emitting inaudible tones, which will be in the range of 18 to 22 KHz. The SoundWave then uses the microphone on the same system and picks up tones as they are bounced back by moving objects, for instance, your hand. The tones move through a detection algorithm, which detects frequency shifts, which are then processed to figure out the gesture made in front of the system. The gestures are then translated into specific actions, which are carried out on the PC. Microsoft has demonstrated the technology in a number of ways. Hand gestures, like moving your hand upwards and downwards enables scrolling through a page upwards and downwards, respectively. Another example is unlocking the screen when one walks towards and locking the screen as the user walks away from it.

The demo video also shows the user playing Tetris by simply using hand gestures to change the brick orientation easily. It recognizes two hand gestures. SoundWave was also tested in a noisy and busy environment to test its reliability. The implementation of this technology to replace touchscreen may be a far-fetched thought, owing to price and other factors, but Microsoft could up the gesture gaming scenario with it.

There is no word on the commercial launch of this real time sensing technique so far. This is the lowest-cost solution I am yet to see for gesture control. Not only that, it’s backward-compatible with any system that features speakers and a microphone.


Published Date: May 09, 2012 05:09 pm | Updated Date: May 09, 2012 05:09 pm