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Wolfson to use bat-like sonar for gesture recognition

November 21, 2013 // Peter Clarke

Wolfson to use bat-like sonar for gesture recognition

Wolfson Microelectronics plc (Edinburgh, Scotland) has teamed up with Elliptic Labs, a startup company working on ultrasonic touchless gesturing for consumer electronics devices.

Wolfson has announced that Elliptic Labs' ultrasonic gesture recognition system will be used with Wolfson's audio digital signal processor IC to provide gesture control for consumer electronics devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as for in-car infotainment.

Wolfson did not indicate how quickly the pairing of Elliptic technology and Wolfson audio DSP chips would be brought to market.

Because Elliptic Labs use sound waves the technology can provide gesture control with a 180-degree field of view at all sides of the device. The technology can identify near-field and mid-air gestures with focus up to 50cm, Wolfson said. The audio DSP IC provides the computation so that electronic equipment can be always on and always looking for gestures "without any significant drain on battery life," Wolfson said.

Wolfson's family of audio hub ICs provide analog-to-digital conversion and up to 600-MIPS of processing performance and run a suite of sound enhancing and noise-reduction software.

Elliptic Labs Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.) was founded as a spin-off from the University of Oslo in 2006. The company grew from initial research background in multi-path interference management for multi-antenna mobile communications. The company now has Windows 8 Gesture Suite that provides touchless versions of the touchscreen gestures. The company also provides a software developers kit for the development of touchless screen interfaces.

"Along with voice control, touchless gesture control is fast becoming one of the next generation human-machine interfaces for mobile and wearable devices. The form-factors and use cases of new devices increasingly make touch control impractical. The barrier to this new technology being more widely adopted has been power consumption," said Andy Brannan, chief commercial officer at Wolfson, in a statement.

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