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A computer at your fingertips.

A computer at your fingertips

Imagine communicating with a computer in sign language, using gestures and finger pointing to tell the machine exactly what to do. There would be no keyboard or other device that the user mfust handle -- only an empty, illuminated desktop on which the user's hands rest, an overhead video camera and a display screen. Such a system is the basis for VIDEODESK, created by Myron W. Krueger of the rtificial Reality Corp. in Vernon, Conn.

Kruegerhs system allows an image of the user's hands to play or work with objects on the display screen. For example, in a fingerpainting exercise, fingers trailed across the desk generate swathes of color on the screen. In another program, hand gestures define a ball, then moving the hands deforms it into a variety of shapes. A third program features an alphabet on the screen. Pointing to letters allows a message to be "typed" on the screen. Five fingers fully extended erase any image. In each case, the hands remain on the desk and an image of the hands interacts with pictures on the display screen.

Krueger designed, built and programmed the electronic technology needed to make VIDEODESK work. His system analyzes the video image and recognizes contact between the image of the user's hands and objects on the display screen. An earlier effort, VIDEOPLACE, in which the silhouette image of a user is combined with a computer-generated picutre seen on a large projection screen, is based on a similar technology (SN: 6/22/85, p.396).

"For many people, a keyboard is a big barrier to computer use," says Krueger. VIDEODESK allows such people to communicate with a computer in a more natural way. In addition, hand gestrues can be very expressive--conveying more information more quickly than a set of keystrokes. Krueger has developed a similar system for engineers interested in visualizing and studying the flow of hot gases through a jet engine. The engineers use their fingers to define exactly where and over what regions they want to see flow patterns.
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Title Annotation:using sign language to communicate with a computer is developed
Author:Peterson, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:May 28, 1988
Words:342
Previous Article:Through an eyeglass oddly.
Next Article:Hearing what you're doing.
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