Ultrasound for HMI on intelligent personal assistants

March 14, 2017 // By Peter Clarke
Elliptic Labs AS (Oslo, Norway), an innovator in ultrasound sensing, has released a presence detection technology it calls Inner Peace.

Inner Peace is based on Inner Beauty, an ultrasound-based context detection system that was launched in 2016. Inner Beauty is designed into Mi Mix smartphones from Xiaomi (see Xiaomi unveils self-designed smartphone processor ) where it replaces the conventional optical proximity sensor that detects when a phone has been taken out of a pocket.

Elliptic Labs software suite delivers gesture and proximity functions by re-using the existing earpiece and microphone, previously used only for audio. Ultrasound signals sent through the air from speakers integrated in smartphones and tablets bounce against your hand/object/head and are recorded by microphones, also integrated in these devices. In this way, Elliptic Labs’ technology recognizes your hand gestures and uses them to move objects on a screen, similarly to the way bats use echolocation to navigate. The active interaction area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to several meters in distance.

Now the company is applying similar technology to presence detection in room where it can add capability to personal assistants such as Amazon's Echo and Google Home by detecting the presence or absence of movement. It can also be applied to monitors for intruder alarms or to watch over elderly people.

Compared to camera-based or infrared technologies, this ultrasonic approach enables an 360-degree dome field of view, does not require direct line-of-sight, works in bright light or darkness, requires up to 95 percent less power, and is less costly, claimed Elliptic Labs.

"We detect the natural gestures and motions that we make every day, so it's a straightforward progression that we would use ultrasound for daily human machine interaction (HMI)," said Laila Danielsen, CEO of Elliptic Labs. "We’re working with OEMs now to deploy Inner Peace, and expect to see home IoT products with ultrasound in the market by 2018."

The global market for intelligent personal assistants will exceed $2.1 billion in 2020 according to Gartner Group.

Related links and articles:

www.ellipticlabs.com

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