Google Patent Application Details Radar-Based Gesture Control System

The system could be used to control smartphones, smart watches or household appliances, according to Google

The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has published two patent applications by Google detailing a radar-based system enabling gesture control for devices such as televisions and smart watches, the latest indication of heated competition in the area of gesture-based interfaces.

Gesture-based interfaces have gained in popularity with the spread of mobile devices, but as yet most rely on a touchscreen or detect movements made by a control unit, as is the case of Microsoft’s Kinect gaming controller.

Virtual reality

biometric scanningApple, Microsoft and Samsung are among the companies also known to be working on in-air interfaces and to have applied for patents relating to them; one recently published Samsung patent application, for instance, details a gesture-based control system to be used with a virtual-reality headset or a SmartGlass device. Apple acquired PrimeSense, which developed Kinect, in 2013

Google’s patent applications, published last week, isn’t limited to a particular type of device, with the company detailing possible uses including PCs, televisions, smartphones, tablets, Google Glass, smart watches, security systems and household appliances. One section describes a radar-based sensor mounted under the wrist that would detect gestures made by the fingers.

The applications, filed in October 2014, states that the system could radiate signals in different bands, depending on the resolution required. The beams could penetrate clothing or materials such as wood and glass but reflect from human tissue, allowing the controller to function through obstructions, according to Google.

Sign language

Such a controller could read complex or simple gestures made with a hand or with a stylus and could, for instance, read standard sign-language symbols, Google stated.

A user could control a device from varying distances, for instance seated in front of a television, standing near a refrigerator or millimetres away from a computer screen, Google said.

The company hasn’t indicated when such a system might appear in finished products.

Earlier this month Google was awarded a patent on a self-driving delivery truck that would allow the recipient to unlock a chamber containing the item ordered using a secret code or a payment card.

The truck would navigate using sensors including radar, video cameras, and range-finding lasers, according to the patent.

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