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Hands-On With Microsoft's Touchless SDK 84

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister takes Microsoft's recently released Touchless SDK for a test spin, controlling his Asus Eee PC 901 with a Roma tomato. The Touchless SDK is a set of .Net components that can be used to simulate the gestural interfaces of devices like the iPhone in thin air — using an ordinary USB Webcam. Although McAllister was able to draw, scroll, and play a rudimentary game with his tomato, the SDK still has some kinks to work out. 'For starters, its marker-location algorithm is very much keyed to color,' he writes. 'That's probably an efficient way to identify contrasting shapes, but color response varies by camera and is heavily influenced by ambient light conditions.' Moreover, the detection routine soaked up 64 percent of McAllister's 1.6GHz Atom CPU, with the video from the Webcam soon developing a few seconds' lag that made controlling onscreen cursors challenging. Project developer Mike Wasserman offers a video demo of the technology."
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Hands-On With Microsoft's Touchless SDK

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  • Re:Code efficiency (Score:2, Insightful)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:23PM (#25339943) Homepage Journal

    Maybe he should try testing it on a real computer next time.... 64% of an underpowered device is not much to complain about.

      See my sig, I'm no MS apologist

  • LPF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:32PM (#25339993) Homepage Journal

    You know, someone should have really told these guys about this thing called a low-pass filter. It's very easily implemented in hardware (heck, most DSPs can do it rather handily), and uses very little power. A TI dsp would have no problem handling this kind of load.

    As for mediocre hardware, yes, the EEE is a little underpowered compared to a desktop. But, when you consider the fact that a 200 MHz dsp can encode NTSC video in realtime, chewing up 60% of the CPU is just poor implementation. That's ~1 GHz on a fully pipelined, superscalar processor, with a heatsink, to do what an embedded DSP can do with oh, say about 50-100 MHz of processing power, without a heatsink, using a RISC processor, running on AA batteries.

    And this yet one of the reasons I believe programmers should have to learn hardware. They wouldn't write code so inefficiently if they only understood the typical hardware engineer's approach to these problems.

  • I have an EEE PC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Saturday October 11, 2008 @12:35PM (#25340003) Homepage Journal

    Running Linux. And the voice commands actually work!

    I'm not sure why I'd bother to chew up my battery with the webcam when I can just talk to the thing. If anything, it seems to me like the voice recognition would be far more promising than using the webcam.

    Okay, I know how this is going to sound, and I'm really not trying to troll, so please bear with me. I suppose there's a contingent of people who like the thought of waving their hands in the air to control their computer (Wii users?!), but I just don't see this going anywhere, especially because Microsoft is involved. If you look at their history, they typically get things wrong the first few times. Whatever promise this technology holds, I expect that:

    1. Any really cool technique will be patented by Microsoft and doomed to obscurity by their poor implementation of same; and
    2. It really is easier for most people to talk to their computer, or use the mouse/keyboard to control their computer, than it is to wave.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.