LTG got a chance to witness Omek Interactive’s latest product in gesture recognition. Omek has been in the space of computer vision in 2007, three years before the Kinect even went into production. In the past, there were plenty of Israel-based gesture recognition startups that have showed up at CES on the floor. Omek was one of them and, at that time, they were pushing demos that showed off its Beckon Development Suite which was geared towards full body tracking.
Omek’s Beckon technology then found its way to Lenovo’s Eedoo CT510, a motion gaming Kinect competitor for the Chinese market.
Now, the company’s next step is a more intimate type of interaction that allows users to control a variety of apps and games with a new system. Dubbed ‘Grasp’, the technology captures 22 points of reference along your hands, allowing complex gesture control using simple, intuitive finger and wrist movement.
“Control everything without touching anything” was the company’s motto and it appears to live up to it.
Omek’s gesture recognition technology demonstrated several core functions, including its media player, photo gallery and a virtual library of books using simple hand movements. According to CEO Janine Kutliroff, the technology works in low lighting conditions as well in areas with busy or moving backgrounds, using highly accurate tracking.
“Our aim is to understand human gestures in their most natural state and be able to translate those movements into something meaningful on screen,” explained Kutliroff.
When questioned how it differentiated from its competitors, Kutliroff kindly directed us to the demo where VP of Game Development Eli Elhadad took to the helm and began demonstrating Omek’s new Grasp technology.
Prior to Omek’s demo, we’ve seen a variety of gesture based systems including Intel’s Perceptive Computing demo which was last unveiled at the chipmaker’s press conference at CES. “We’re very aware of Intel’s Perceptual Computing initiative. In fact, Intel is one of our main investors having led our last financing round,” said Kutliroff.
Incidentally, we got a chance to go hands on with both Omek’s Grasp technology and Intel’s Perceptual Computing Beta. By comparison, Omek’s SDK seems much farther along than Intel’s Perceptual Beta (which we’ll talk more in detail in another post). Maybe Intel should invest a little more into Omek for the rest of their IP portfolio.
In our own experience using Omek’s Grasp technology, the gesture control was extremely accurate but what really impressed us was its speed. Omek’s camera seemed to be embedded inside an All-in-one PC as opposed to Intel’s Creative camera which appeared more like a smaller version of Kinect. This suggested that Omek’s camera could work in a variety of use cases.
Omek’s demo required no calibration when I sat down in front of the computer and it appears that the guys behind the technology have done their homework regarding natural movements. Not a single tip was uttered from any of the Omek team when I navigated through books, music and photos.
On a more practical level, Omek could potentially help more touch-oriented operating systems like Windows 8 gain larger adoption with existing non-touch systems by adding gesture control, a point Kutliroff made while I got a chance to toy around with the interface. It’s smart and OEMs wishing to cut down on the cost of capacitive touch screen could take this route.
“Does this use RGB cameras?” I asked. “We’re actually using 3D cameras,” replied Elhadad. “This allows us to create a more robust 3D hand skeleton. It translates to a better user experience, providing more precision, accuracy, and faster response time within applications.”
It sure does.
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