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Startup may beat Apple in race to revolutionize the remote control

Zach Epstein
November 5th, 2012 at 5:20 PM
TV Gesture Control

Industry watchers have been waiting for Apple (AAPL) to burst into living rooms around the world for more than a year now. Either on an own-brand HDTV, a completely redesigned Apple TV or enhanced remote control functions on iOS devices, Siri is seen as the key to Apple’s revolutionary plans. Speaking commands such as “put on the Giants game,” or “what action movies are on right now?” instead of viewing guides and surfing through channels could be the next big thing in television technology, but what if viewers could dump traditional remote controls without saying a word?

Santa Clara, California-based PredictGaze has created a technology that combines gesture controls and facial recognition into a solution that enables users to control a variety of devices ranging from smartphones and cars to TVs and stereos.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review blog recently interviewed PredictGaze co-founder Ketan Banjara, who has used his company’s tech to achieve some intriguing things in his own living room. Examples referenced in the interview include putting a finger to his lips to mute his stereo and pausing his TV by simply standing up and leaving the room.

Gesture controls exist in a number of products that are currently on the market including smart TVs and Microsoft’s (MSFT) popular Kinect Xbox controller. Quality and performance vary however, and PredictGaze’s technology pushes the concept forward by leaps and bounds.

PredictGaze’s “gaze tracking” uses a camera on a control unit to continuously track a user’s eye movements and other motions. The data is then used to convert looks and movements into commands.

“It’s not that we have different technologies that we brought together. That’s a difference. It’s one technology that is able to handle face, gesture, and gaze,” Banjara told Technology Review. The co-founder also says that all data is processed on the device bearing PredictGaze’s software instead of remotely, and it is sensitive enough to accommodate changes in lighting.

The tech still needs refinement in many respects and it is not clear when it will become more widely available, but PredictGaze’s technology is so intriguing that it might not even need scantily clad underwear models and sexual innuendos in order to sell it.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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