Energy harvesting gesture recognition for smartphones and IoT devices

February 28, 2014 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Gesture control for electronics could soon become an alternative to touchscreens and sensing technologies that consume a lot of power and only work when users can see their smartphones and tablets.

University of Washington computer scientists have built a low-cost gesture recognition system, called "AllSee," that runs without batteries and lets users control their electronic devices hidden from sight with simple hand movements. It uses existing TV signals as both a power source and the means for detecting a user's gesture command.

"This is the first gesture recognition system that can be implemented for less than a dollar and doesn't require a battery," said Shyam Gollakota, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. "You can leverage TV signals both as a source of power and as a source of gesture recognition."

The technology is set to be shown in April at the Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation conference in Seattle.

The AllSee prototype is integrated with an off-the-shelf mobile phone. This technology enables new applications such as gesture recognition with the phone still in your pocket. Source: University of Washington.

The researchers built A small sensor that can be placed on an electronic device such as a smartphone was built that uses an ultra-low-power receiver to extract and classify gesture information from wireless transmissions around us. When a person gestures with the hand, it changes the amplitude of the wireless signals in the air. The AllSee sensors then recognize unique amplitude changes created by specific gestures.

Sensors use three to four times less power than existing gesture recognition systems by harvesting power from wireless transmissions. This enables mobile devices to always have the gesture technology on and enabled.