Microsoft researchers working on bringing hand gestures into VR

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft has made a rather large bet by pushing development of an augmented reality ecosystem rather than the currently popularized virtual reality platform other companies are rushing to create.

However, Microsoft’s tendency toward trudging the road least traveled isn’t precluding the company’s involvement in the virtual reality landscape, in fact, Microsoft is currently developing technologies to help aid in support for advanced motion and gesture based interactions in a virtual reality world.

Haptic feedback research
Haptic feedback research

Microsoft researchers are looking at a number of ways in which technology can start to recognize detailed hand motion — and engineers can put those breakthroughs to use in a wide variety of fields.

How do we interact with things in the real world? Well, we pick them up, we touch them with our fingers; we manipulate them,” said Shotton, a principal researcher in computer vision at Microsoft’s Cambridge, UK, research lab. “We should be able to do exactly the same thing with virtual objects. We should be able to reach out and touch them.”

The particular science behind incorporating specific and advanced motion recognition is a rather complex one that involves studies into detailed hand tracking research dating back to the 1940’s, creating a sense of virtual touch using more haptic retargeting research and teaching AI the language of gestures.

Adi Diamant, who directs the Advanced Technologies Lab, said that when people think about hand and gesture recognition, they often think about ways it can be used for gaming or entertainment. But he also sees great potential for using gesture for everyday work tasks, like designing and giving presentations, flipping through spreadsheets, editing e-mails and browsing the web.

People also could use them for more creative tasks, like creating art or making music.”

There is a lot left to discover when dealing with the yet nascent virtual reality platform. While many are rushing toward gaming as the highlighted feature of virtual reality, Microsoft and others are envisioning a world where virtual reality becomes as commonplace and efficient as reality.