Monday, December 16, 2013

The Sixth Sense



We all grew up interacting with the physical objects around us and they are in enormous numbers which we use in our everyday life. Unlike our most computing devices they are mostly fun to use. When we talk about objects one thing that comes automatically attached to it, is gesture. How we use gestures to manipulate this object and to interact with them as well as interacting with each other. A gesture like waving hands for saying bye can automatically be understood. We don’t need to have training classes for that or a gesture of Namastey can be easily understood in India as wishing someone with respect. It automatically comes as a part of our everyday learning. So the thing is how can we leverage our knowledge about everyday objects and how can we use them to interact with the digital world? Rather than using a computer or a mouse why can’t we interact with them the same way we interact with the physical world? We humans are never interested in computing but all we are interested is in getting information. Laptops plus smartphones provide effortless access to computing power .But how can we move a step further rather than looking like a machine sitting in front of a machine to gain that information. Why can’t we carry all the information ourselves rather than searching it on our laptops, smartphones or any other machines? How can we assimilate our digital world with the real world?

Perhaps the most interesting areas of creativity and technology now are where the digital and the real worlds meet. Pioneers in gestural interface promise to bring that. Movies like Minority Report or Microsoft’s Project Natal controller-less game system already has given us the exciting peek into the future. But outside of that, perhaps never has the future been so amazingly captured as in Pranav Mistry‘s demonstration of something called “Sixth Sense”. He is one of the inventors. He is a research assistant and a PhD candidate at MIT Media Lab. The Sixth Sense prototype is a wearable device like a pendant that allows users to interact with all modes of data and virtual information with physical gestures. It is comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. According to Mistry it’s made up of trouble-free features, but it does some crazy things. In the demo, Mistry is seen holding up his hands in a photo framing gesture, and actually taking a picture, then browsing pictures on a surface nearby and then sending photos by dialing numbers on his hand.

Recently, Sixth Sense has engrossed worldwide attention. Just imagine, the ease with which you can access all the information available as you carry it yourself. By simply drawing '@' sign in air on any blank wall or piece of paper you will be able to check your mail. Imagine a system that can display the reason of your flight delay on the boarding ticket itself which you are holding in your hand.



Currently, the prototype costs less then Rs.15,000. This technology when fully developed will have open source software as Pranav claims and he will provide all demonstrations on how to use it. Well, when fully developed it will be giant leap in technological evolution. We always observe any thing, any place, or come to any decision through our five senses. But arguably the most useful information that can help us make the correct decision is not naturally perceivable with our five senses, specifically the data, information and knowledge that mankind has accumulated about everything and which is ever more all accessible online. Sixth sense bridges this gap allowing us to interact with this information via natural hand gestures. ‘Sixth Sense’ frees information from its confines by seamlessly integrating it with reality, and thus making the entire world your computer.

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