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Wave goodbye to your TV... literally

Out goes the remote, in comes gesturing tech

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Losing a remote control down the back of the sofa could soon become a thing of the past, thanks to two Australian boffins' development of a TV controller system operated entirely by hand signals.

The system combines a webcam, a gesture processing unit and a universal remote control. The webcam captures the hand signal, which is decoded using special software and converted it into a command which can by used to trigger the appropriate infrared signal from remote control. The result: give the thumbs up signal and the TV changes channel.

The system uses a set of pre-defined hand movements, such as an outstretched palm with the thumb pointing upwards to turn the TV on.

A series of sucsessful tests have already been performed with the system on TVs and VCRs, which involved using it under different lighting conditions and making gestures from different distances.

remote_handsignal
Mitsubishi testing its own TV remote replacement design

Developers Dr Prasham Premaratne, from the School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Quang Nguyen, from the Research School of Information Science and Engineering at the Australian National University, claim it can even distinguish between intentional and unintentional gestures - handy if you use it while watching sports or playing on your Wii.

However, the Australian boffins aren't the first to come up with such a system. Back in 1994, Mitsubishi researchers William T Freeman and Craig D Weissman began working on a prototype that used a two-screen rig, combining a computer and a television. They admitted that the system could prove "somewhat tiring for extended viewing".

No details have been given by the designers for plans to release the system onto the market, but they did say are working on ways to miniaturise it and incorporate it into games consoles.

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