Microchip Technology has recently announced the MGC3130, the world’s first electrical-field (E-field)-based 3D gesture controller based on Microchip’s patented GestIC. This technology allows you to use hand gestures to control a computer with the accuracy of a mouse. The end result looks somewhat similar to what is done with the Leap Motion controller but the range is shorter as you need to be within 15cm of the surface with the electrodes. However, I would suspect this technology to be cheaper and consume less power.
The picture above is the development kit with MGC3130 chipset at the top center of the board.
With a power consumption as low as 150 microwatts in active sensing state, the MGC3130 enables always-on 3D gesture recognition (even for battery powered devices). The power consumption is up to 90% lower than camera-based gesture systems.
Here are MGC3130 key features:
Microchip provides the Colibri Gesture Suite, a library of GestIC technology features (e.g. x/y/z hand position tracking, flick, circle and symbol gestures recognition) that are pre-processed on-chip to allow manufacturers to design user interfaces with very low development efforts.
The company also offers Sabrewing MGC3130 Single Zone Evaluation Kit (pictured at the top of this post) for $169 that enables development with the MGC3130 by providing a selectable electrode size of 5” or 7”. The kit comes with the free AUREA Graphical User Interface which can be downloaded here and allows designers to easily match their system commands to the Colibri Suite. The way the kit works is quite straightforward: MGC3130 captures and processes the signals, sends the dat avia I2C to a PIC micro-controller which sends forward this data via USB to a computer running the AUREA GUI. You can watch the video below showing the kit in action with the Aura GUI.
Samples of Microchip MGC3130 are available today in a 5×5 mm 28-pin QFN package, and mass production is expected in April 2013. MGC3130 will cost $2.26 in large quantities. You can visit Microchip MGC3130 page for further details.