Here's a patent made public just this month that shows Microsoft working on hand gesturing for tablets and Surface.
PatentBolt has discovered a patent application filed by Microsoft that covers real-time hand-gesturing for tablets, tabletops and more. The thing is, the mysterious patent reportedly doesn't explain a whole lot about the company's invention, but rather serves as a simplified prelude to a more detailed application to be submitted at a later date.
"[The system's] sole purpose is to present some concepts disclosed herein in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description that is presented later," Microsoft states in the application.
According to the Redmond company, object detection and recognition are difficult problems in the field of computer vision. Recognition of hand poses in images are also problematic. However, there is a need to provide simple, accurate, fast and computationally inexpensive methods of both object and gesture recognition for many applications.
So as a solution, Microsoft proposes a system that allows the user to drive an application that is displayed on a tablet or projected on a tabletop simply by using hand gestures. The company is looking into finding ways to accurately determine when the user is hovering a hand above the display, and when the user's hand touches the screen.
"A random decision forest is trained to enable recognition of hand poses and objects and optionally also whether those hand poses are touching or not touching a display surface," Microsoft explains. "The random decision forest uses image features such as appearance, shape and optionally stereo image features. In some cases, the training process is cost aware. The resulting recognition system is operable in real-time."
In a Microsoft patent image, the company shows a tablet with a motion-detection camera mounted within a work surface. The camera is arranged to capture images of the user's hands or other objects positioned between the camera and the display. An image processing system will be incorporated into the tablet and may be set up to classify images captured by the camera. The classification information would then by used by a user interface to control the tablet's display and drive a specific application. This system could also be used to control a display projected onto a surface.
For now it's assumed that the motion detection system will be applied to Windows 8 tablets and Surface tablets, and possibly even the company's pico-like projector system and/or device. Microsoft's patent application was originally filed in December 2011 and made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just this month.