Elliptic Labs Demos Ultrasonic Touchless Gesturing Technology

The idea of touching a screen and directly interacting with content has been with us for some time now. Several companies are currently working on alternate or better ways for us to interact with our smart devices. At CES 2015 we sat down with Guenael Strutt, VP Product Development at Elliptic Labs, who showed us the company's ultrasonic touchless gesturing technology.

This touchless technique requires a minimum of three microphones and one transducer to detect the motion of a hand and its distance from the screen. The demo unit in the video uses four microphones, located in each front corner, and two transducers, located above and below the screen, to improve gesture recognition and precision.

The signals from the sensors are fed to a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) in the onboard SoC, which interprets the data without the need for any additional chips. Elliptic Labs provides the DSP driver and gesture software for OEMs to integrate, along with an SDK for developers.

Elliptic Labs, a privately held company, was founded in 2006 as a spinoff from the University of Oslo. The company, which now has offices in Palo Alto, California, and Oslo, Norway, is currently working with OEMs to integrate its technology into smartphones and tablets and hopes to see a product released in the next six to nine months.

Matt Humrick is a Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware, covering Smartphones and Tablets. Contact him at mhumrick@tomshardware.com and follow him on Twitter @digitalOut_net. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • lorfa
    I'm skeptical.

    Wouldn't it also activate when any object came close? Also, ultrasonic at what frequencies and volume? Would it drive your dog to madness?
  • lun471k
    This is a step in the right path. This technology will become quite popular sooner or later (maybe not in the way of ultrasonic proximity detection though). I could see that kind of touchless gesture go along quite well with Intel RealSense holograms.
  • Hydrotricithline
    This is rediculous.. really.. how much practical application would this have in the smartphone market? even in the demo .. touching is still needed. I mean if you wanted to argue .. finger prints on tablet devices while watching movies.. then make it touchless. the technology itself looks promising even in the proto stages of if; but the application I question. Would you really want a phone where proximity turns on your screen? and waving your hands around like an idiot isn't exactly natural.. (to most of us anyhow :) If the tech was applied to something like .. a digital projector for your laser pointer, power point presenters .. 15 years ago.. maybe. Interesting abstract concept/pure science. But I can't see this catching on, especially with an additional price being added to it. Aswell I can't see battery life being positively effected.
  • blazingsoul
    What are the health implications of having this ultrasonic frequency so close to the body for prolonged periods of time? If you put the phone in your pocket would the screen constantly be on?