Gesture control technology that can turn everyday objects into remote controls

October 02, 2017 //By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Researchers from Lancaster University have come up with a new gesture control technology that can turn everyday objects into remote controls by allowing body movement, or movement of objects, to be used to interact with screens – dramatically changing how we interact with televisions, and other screens.

The research is detailed in a paper titled: 'Matchpoint: Spontaneous spatial coupling of body movement for touchless pointing'  – which will be presented at the UIST2017 conference in Quebec City this October.

The 'Matchpoint' technology, which only requires a simple webcam, works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular widget in the corner of the screen. These targets correspond to different functions – such as volume, changing channel or viewing a menu. The user synchronises the direction of movement of the target, with their hand, head or an object, to achieve what researchers call 'spontaneous spatial coupling' – which activates the desired function.

Currently, existing gesture control software looks for a specific body part it has been trained to identify – such as a hand. Lancaster's technology looks for rotating movement so it doesn't require calibration, or the software to have prior knowledge of objects. This provides much more flexibility and ease for the user as it works even while hands are full, and while stood or slouching on the sofa.

Users also do not need to learn specific commands to activate different functions, as is the case with some gesture controlled televisions on the market, and the user is able to decouple at will.


This image shows targets in the corner of a TV screen. Each target rotates around its corresponding function. The user matches the rotational movement with any object, or part of their body, to create a coupling and active the control. Image courtesy of Lancaster University.