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Friday, May 28, 2010

Panasonic gives 3D gesture control to outdoor signs and industrial apps - video

9m range for outdoor 'time of flight' motion sensor points to gesture control of TV and interactive 'magic' mirrors

By Nick Flaherty

Panasonic (or rather Panasonic Electric Works, the new name for Matsushita) has developed a 3D 'time of flight' motion sensor for outdoor displays and immersive multimedia and points to gesture control of TVs and new types of displays such as an interactive mirror.
"We strongly believe that 3D sensing is the key to develop a new way of daily life interaction in the future," says Ken Omori, General Manager at Panasonic Electric Works. "Our technology has the highest performance commercially available for volume production and we are confident in our capacity to help create new gesture controlled systems on a large scale starting now."

This video has some key ideas for the future of consumer devices such as an interactive mirror and gesture-controlled TV.

The "D-IMager" is aimed at outdoor markets such as out-of-home entertainment, immersive multi-media, interactive digital signage and video arcade games. It also has potential for movement based industrial machines and security markets using shape or anti-tailgating detection.
Analysts predict that digital-out-of-home (DOOH) advertising revenues in Western Europe will quadruple from €160 million in 2007 to €626 million by 2012 (source; Screen Digest, Goldmedia; Digital Signage in Europe), driven by the continuous development of technology and innovative ways to reach target audiences.
The D-IMager technology enables signs to interact with customers, not only helping advertisers add valuable consumer information for marketing initiatives, increasing transaction sizes and ROI but also helping improve brand recognition in today's highly competitive market, says Panasonic.

The D-IMager enables precise motion capture of spatial objects with wide field-of-view within a 9m range by processing high precision (pixel by pixel) data captured by a high resolution infrared sensor. It is designed to blend in with TV displays (indeed the 18Vdc AC adaptor doesn't even come with the unit, making it an integration sell) and is capable of resolving 160x120 pixels (20 or 30 frames per second). It is available with a USB2.0 interface with future models already in development.

One of the main problems of conventional stereo cameras is providing accurate information in uneven lighting conditions and avoiding the effects of shadows. D-IMager uses time-of-flight (TOF) technology, which ensures reliability and accuracy.  Detecting tailgaters is often necessary to prevent unauthorized access, a condition that can be difficult to achieve with stereo cameras. With D-IMager, high security anti-tailgating solutions are not only easy to develop but also reliable, even in total darkness. Moreover, they can be integrated into any existing infrastructure. Further applications include counting people and providing access restriction after the specified number of people has been reached and area monitoring

Factory Automation & Robotics
The TOF technology used in D-IMager can also increase efficiency in industrial processes by helping identify objects and helping robots find items. It can enhance machine vision systems by better imaging, tolerance of lighting variations and less image degradation.
Robotics is another promising area for the D-IMager. Today, the use of commercial and industrial robots is spreading rapidly and Panasonic believes the D-IMager helps robots perceive their surroundings in 3D, allowing them to carry out their tasks more precisely and efficiently.

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