Touch Gesture Motion Points Way to New User Interfaces

By Helen Vince
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User Interface – The tenth edition of the Touch Gesture Motion Conference organized by Mark Fihn in co-operation with IHS was held October 28-30, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Unlike some similarly themed prior events, this year’s TGM event provided a thorough and engaging overview of the current state of TGM user interface technologies focused on identifying the future of the TGM market rather than simply providing a soapbox for individual firms’ marketing pitches.

The pre-conference tutorials on Oct. 28 provided five in-depth presentations on touch markets and technologies, and gesture and motion based interactivity. The Oct. 28 tutorials coincided with the announcement that IHS was acquiring DisplaySearch which prompted a bit of discussion among the attendees following, as it does, IHS’ prior acquisitions of display industry market research firms iSuppli, Screendigest, Displaybank and IMS Research. Thirty one speaker presentations over the following two days covered technologies, applications and markets comprising the diverse touch gesture motion development space. The topics included stylus and touch user interfaces, haptics, sensor integration, ITO alternatives, human computer interaction, market forecasts and more.

Although touch technology and touch related topics were addressed during the sessions, gesture as a means of human computer interaction was also very much discussed. Several presenters stressed the need to further refine user interface designs in order for gesture interaction to advance and become a widely accepted user interface method. The need to develop hardware and software platforms to allow developers to experiment with and refine gesture interaction schemes was also in evidence.

For example, presenters from semiconductor firms Freescale and Microchip addressed the use of their microcontrollers and supporting chips to implement gesture control in wearables and other consumer electronic products with embedded processors. Microchip envisioned applications from home appliances, automotive, medical, audio, white goods, home automation and more, for its capacitive gesture sensing gesture controller chip (illustration below).

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Source: Microchip

Freescale has launched a Wearable Reference Platform (WaRP) in combination with an open source developer community, seeking to drive adoption of its microcontroller and sensor hub chips in wearable products (illustration below).

Freescale1

Source: Freescale

Elliptic Labs is developing ultrasound based sensors for gesture interface systems. As did many of the presenters at TGM 2014, the Elliptic Labs presenter emphasized that better sensors are only a part of the overall solution. Elliptic and other presenters stressed that interaction design advances slower than technology and that user interface design must advance in order to use the new sensing technologies to implement gesture interface approaches that provide a good user experience. At TGM 2014 it was apparent that the presenters and attendees felt that while gesture interface technology is advancing, development of products and applications based on gesture control is still at an early stage. These were just a few of the topics address at the TGM meeting. Look for additional articles for Display Daily’s Mobile Display Report and Large Display Report on the advances that were presented at Touch Gesture Motion 2014. – Phil Wright