Digits finger-tracker could enhance the next generation of Kinect

Microsoft Digits, an in-development technology that tracks finger motion similarly to how Kinect tracks body motion, was revealed at a tech symposium today – and it could well influence the next generation of Kinect-style controllers.

Digits uses a camera strapped to the underside of the user’s wrist. This camera is fitted with infrared and laser systems able to track each joint on each finger. Meanwhile, an inertial tracker enables Digits to accurately estimate the orientation and movement of the user’s wrist and arm.

In the examples shown in Microsoft’s video, the Digits wearer is able to form his hand into a gun shape and fire off projectiles in a 3D environment, as well as make a pull motion to drag himself forward in the virtual world, and a grab motion to pick up and manipulate objects.

Another example has Digits paired to a smartphone in the wearer’s pocket, and illustrates how the technology could be used to control a radio app. Using a dial-turning motion, the user can tune the radio to different channels, while an up/down motion adjusts the playback volume. If a call comes in, a thumbs-up motion answers it.

Digits is wireless, with Bluetooth allowing it to “talk” to other devices and an on-board battery providing power. This means wearers will be able to move around while using it, unlike current desk-bound finger-trackers like Leap Motion. This degree of freedom could make it highly suitable for gaming, especially multiplayer gaming. The prototype is a little bulky (weighing 75g), but as Ars Technica points out, should Microsoft decide to develop it for the consumer market we can expect a smaller size and lighter weight.

Do you think Microsoft is onto something with Digits? Let us know in the comments below.

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