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4 big adopters of gesture recognition

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Market research finds that gesture recognition is finding fertile ground in four industries: entertainment, health care, auto and retail.

A report by CB Insights indicates that other industries are picking up on the slowly emerging biometric category, but the four highlighted sectors seem to be particularly receptive environments.

Gesture-related patent activity in the entertainment industry is healthy. CB Insights found more than 500 mentions of either hand gestures or gesture recognition in patent documents filed from 2016 through the first calendar quarter of this year.

Using one’s hand (or hands) to command a conventional computing device or phone is an obvious starting point for entertainment applications, but gestures are increasingly critical to the growth of virtual, mixed and augmented reality content.

The report notes that the augmented and virtual reality sector alone is valued at $290 billion. Content and display technology bring in new buyers. Unlike controllers, gesture interfaces, however, will help consumers more fully immerse themselves in what they see.

CB Insights says Go Touch VR and BeBop Sensors are working on ways to better track hand motions by using wearable hardware. They also are creating haptic feedback, a sensation response to commands and another level of digital experience in games and other content.

Health care is another environment that could easily make use of gesture recognition.

And while thinking of gesture controls in the industry might spark fantasies of remotely operated surgery suites, the report spotlights body movement as a recognizable gesture.

Its authors look at a pair of exercise-related efforts. Kaia Health and TwentyBN make apps that coach and monitor people as they put themselves through paces. Microsoft in an investor in TwentyBN.

Auto is both a natural venue for gesture control and an application that can give one pause. Another incentive for drivers to take their hands off their steering wheel is not a welcome thought.

Touch-free dashboards are the goal of Gestoos and Cipia, a pair of startups highlighted in the report. But they also are working on systems that monitor drivers themselves, watching for signs they are not paying proper attention to the task at hand.

General Motors, according to the report, last year applied for a patent for a lidar-based method of recognizing ride-hailing gestures. There are other gestures demonstrated on most city streets, but recognizing them typically is not as critical to driving.

Toyota has been awarded a patent for lidar systems capable of reading gesture control, possibly to read in-cabin signs.

Retail, fresh from less-than-momentous fling with mobile robotics in store aisles, now is ready to adopt gesture control, according to CB Insights.

The primary impetus is to adapt to a COVID world. Touchless interfaces are seen as an enticement to virus-weary and -wary consumers.

Google was awarded a patent early last year for gesture recognition systems covering how online shoppers might use augmented reality to remotely examine merchandise.

A smaller vendor, UltraLeap, is working to put gesture control in kiosks and even elevators.

Another company, Elliptic Labs is working with Chinese phone maker Xiaomi and Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek to create, among other things, touch-free fitting room and beauty-store mirrors.

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