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Consumer Applications for Embedded Vision

The days of the traditional game controller may well be numbered, as sensors and video analytics enable detection of body movements and even facial expressions to become the interface between player and game.

Consumer applications for embedded vision products have taken off in a big way since the launch of the first-generation Xbox Kinect, the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history. The PlayStation Move quickly followed suit and now software developers are rapidly developing titles that take advantage of the technology.

Consumer applications for vision are not limited to the gaming industry, however. Remote control applications are already in use today, via vendors such as GestureTek and PrimeSense (the developer of the reference design for the Kinect, now owned by Apple), which eliminate the need for a physical remote control.

Furthermore, embedded vision can be used in other household applications such as set-top boxes, televisions, PCs, smartphones and tablets, lighting, heating and air conditioning to further eliminate the need for physical controls. Mobile electronics devices are a particularly compelling vision platform, because they often already contain both front- (for "selfies" and videoconferencing) and rear-mounted (for still and video photography) high resolution cameras, along with beefy application processors and abundant DRAM and nonvolatile storage.

In addition, video analytics and intelligent video applications will become integral to the way consumers absorb content. The ability to analyze vast libraries of video content as well as live video, including movies, sports and TV shows in addition to user generated content, opens-up a myriad of possibilities. For example, by meta-tagging video with information about its content, actors, players, etc. it will be possible to effectively search the rapidly expanding library of video content available to consumers. This easy search capability will be vital in facilitating a truly personal TV experience, with the consumer able to quickly and accurately search and find all of the content fitting their interests.

What are the primary vision products used in consumer electronics?

Vision products can be used in numerous consumer applications such as set-top boxes, televisions, PCs, smartphones and tablets, appliances, home automation and safety equipment. Virtually any device requiring human input represents an opportunity for vision processing.

Who are the main suppliers of embedded vision products in consumer electronics?

Early suppliers to the industry include large consumer electronics companies like Sony and Microsoft, with smaller developers also developing (and in some cases also licensing) their technologies.

Both Intel and Fraunhofer, for example, are actively developing gesture based video systems that capture hand and finger positioning within the infrared camera’s view, expanding the boundaries of touch capability. Fraunhofer’s system makes use of a stereo camera thereby enabling the 3D positioning of the hand. With Intel’s system, a projector is used to create the display so any surface can become a screen or computing surface. Similarly, Hitachi has recently gone to market with an interactive, short throw projector using Luidia’s IR and ultrasonic sensor technology.