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Center Innovation Fund: JSC CIF

Interface Everywhere: Further Development of a Gesture and Voice Commanding Interface

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

To capitalize on developments in voice and gesture control, we must identify a framework by which reliable control interfaces can be developed before these technologies will be taken seriously for application in spaceflight or commercial industry. Previous projects have successfully generated prototype interfaces for concept demonstration purposes but fall short of fully characterizing the available technologies and systematically identifying intuitive voice/gesture 'vocabularies' and design principles which will be necessary for flight applications. This project will leverage from previous projects but will establish a foundation (vocabularies, design principles, technology baseline and framework) from which serious integrated solutions to human interface needs can be built. Our goal is to develop a number of prototype interfaces with specific applications that would lead to specific voice and gesture solutions.

Natural User Interface (NUI) is a term used to describe a number of technologies such as speech recognition, multi-touch, and kinetic interfaces. Gesture and voice control are two exciting computer input modalities for the NUI. Some believe that NUI is the next step forward from the traditional graphical user interface (GUI), which employs a mouse and keyboard as the primary means of input. The goal of NUI is to develop interfaces that do not have a steep learning curve and the interactions with these interfaces are "natural" and intuitive to the user. One disadvantage of current GUIs is that they require the users to be physically near an input device in order to interact with the system. With the NUI, however, through using voice and gesture commands, the user is able to interact with the system anywhere they want within the defined work environment. Such "Interface Anywhere" gesture ability is achievable using infrared technology. The voice recognition portion is achievable through array microphones and Kinect software. Our NUI system of choice for this proof of concept is the Microsoft Kinect sensor. The heart of the system and what makes gesture recognition possible is the Kinect's skeleton tracking ability. The Kinect contains an infrared projector and receiver, a normal RGB camera, and an array of four microphones. The system tracks multiple users in x-, y-, and z-space. Based on the depth information, the Kinect generates a skeleton using joint position.

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