Type, Control Robots With An Invisible Virtual Sphere

People are always looking for the next big thing for technology, whether that means a thinner device, touchscreen controls, or virtual reality. Erghis, a newly-founded company in Sweden, believes it has created the foundation to that next big technology idea: an invisible virtual sphere that can be used for many functions such as controlling other gadgets or typing.

The Sphere works by using three different gestures in conjunction with a motion sensor. So far, it's been used with the Kinect and Leap Motion Controller. With only three different gestures, Erghis CEO Örs-Barna Blénessy said that the user can have access to hundreds of different commands. In a video, a user has his hands in the shape of the sphere and is typing sentences as if it were a keyboard. He said users can also configure the keyboard to have preferred inputs on a certain finger. Blénessy said that having only three gestures removes the need to remember a whole list of commands.

"Imagine for example if you walked by an advertisement display, which demanded you to learn 10 different gestures," he said. "Would you stop and use it past the point of it being a novelty? The gestures we have chosen provide a high degree of freedom and enables access to 100's [sic] of configurable commands, while allowing users to learn using the Sphere in no time."

According to Blénessy, he and his colleague, Holger Andersson, started the project two years ago when they were students at Lund University. Since then they've released a 2D early access version (in 2013), and the project spawned Erghis, a company only consisting of Blénessy, Andersson and three other people all working on the 3D Sphere.

Just like any startup project, there are a few hurdles to overcome in the development process. In regard to using motion sensors, the second version of the Kinect only allows two of the three gestures. Erghis hopes that Microsoft will further stabilize the Kinect's tracking data as well as share the finger tracking algorithm to allow all three gestures. The company is also still looking for investors who are willing to provide a "significant initial investment," and it seems that the Sphere has already proved itself in a few scenarios.

Blénessy said the Sphere is connected to an API that has worked well with industry robotics, interactive displays, and even virtual reality. Based on the current production capabilities of the Sphere, Blénessy hopes to make the Sphere available to the market, but also specifically in "high value implementations." The Sphere certainly has potential, and with the right investors and technology available to the company, it could pave the way for similar products in the future.

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