Hands On With Softkinetic’s Hands-Controlled TV


We write a lot about how the world of content available through your television set is undergoing a dramatic change. But the changes happening to your TV aren’t just what’s on or how it gets there, but also the way you interact with your TV set. Forget remote controls and buttons when you’ve got hands to change the channel and adjust the volume. We’ve been following this gesture-controlled TV trend for a while and recently sat down with Softkinetic to get a demo of their solution.

Softkinetic creates software that can run on any 3-D camera to translate people’s movements into commands set-top boxes or television sets can understand. Softkinetic is primarily in the gesture-controlled video game space (think Wii without the Wiimotes), and is working with companies like France Telecom’s Orange to develop applications to control TVs. Softkinetic is similar to Gesturetek, which is the software that handles gesture control for upcoming Hitachi sets.

Unlike other solutions we’ve seen so far, Softkinetic isn’t bound by a strict set of predefined gestures. In fact, your hand acts more like a mouse, controlling an on-screen cursor. Wave your hand around and select what you want by high-fiving the air. As you’ll see in this video demo with Thomas Petersen, business development and marketing director for Softkinetic, it looks a little silly at first, and doesn’t always work, but it’s still very early in the development process. Softkinetic expects the Orange set-top box solution to hit the market at the end of 2010/beginning of 2011, which is in line with when 3-D chip maker Canesta said its work with gesture-controlled TVs would be seen.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, Sofkinetic was borne out of a university project and incorporated two years ago. The company has 25 employees and is funded by private Belgian investors.


Patti Jordan

For GestureTek it is great to see the growing interest and recognition of video gesture control as the next natural step in user interface for gaming and display interactivity. GestureTek has been inventing, patenting, and pioneering gesture control technology for over 20 years and has had 3D depth sensing and stereo control software and patents in place for over 8 years. You may be interested to know that GestureTek has already commercially deployed a package that makes available all the 3D tracking and control features you mention, plus far more. Our software has always worked with any available 3D depth camera. Although we have developed some interesting unique gesture control commands, our 3D depth sensing technology has always offered the ability for users to control the system using virtually any hand gesture, such as grabbing, swiping, waving or pointing. Besides the work we are doing with major telecom companies for their set top boxes and electronics manufacturers for their next generation of TV’s and other consumer devices, GestureTek has deployed many public interactive displays utlizing our 3D depth sensing system. More details are available at http://www.gesturetek.com/3ddepth/introduction.php


Very cool but good luck in embedding video cameras into an internet connected set top box. Talk about big brother watching. Someone is going to hack the box so they can see you.


If a room full of Italian soccer fans disagrees with the ref, will they end up changing the channel three times?

Comments are closed.