Startup uses ultrasound for low energy gesture recognition

May 05, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
Startup Chirp Microsystems (Albany, California) was founded late in 2013 to commercialize research into the use of a piezoelectric ultrasound transducer array to capture depth information and gesture recognition.

The work was conducted by PhD students and company co-founders Richard Przybyla and Stefon Shelton. The company is led by co-founder and CEO Michelle Meng-Hsiung Kiang, a former executive with the Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Idaho) imaging group, now Aptina Imaging Inc. (San Jose, California).

The company claims on its website that the use of sound waves to locate moving objects is more energy efficient than trying to recognize then from an image sensor. The company compares a camera consuming 1 W to record video while the Chirp transducer consumes 400-microwatts to perform 3D range finding.

As part of his PhD studies at University California Berkeley Przybyla developed the system with Stefon Shelton who studied at University California Davis and worked in the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC). To show off the micro-machined ultrasound transducer and its companion ASIC, the pair developed applications for gesture recognition with computer operating systems for such things as page turning and controlling an airplane within a flight simulator.