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Multitouch Gesture-Recognition Software Has Good Instincts

Article-Multitouch Gesture-Recognition Software Has Good Instincts

Ease of use is crucial to consumers of all types of electronic devices. Meeting the growing need for user-friendly medical devices, Grayhill Inc. (La Grange, IL) has developed a set of software tools based on gesture-recognition technology that offers technicians greater control of medical imaging applications. The Instinct suite of software tools suits a range of applications, including ultrasound equipment, medical imaging controllers, patient monitors, surgical equipment, and molecular imagers.

Grayhill gesture-recognition software
Finger positions on Grayhill's Multi-Touch Ring Encoder are interpreted by gesture-recognition

Used in conjunction with the firm's hardware, Instinct software creates a more-intuitive human interface for users of medical imaging devices, says Jason Kandik, Grayhill's marketing manager. First, it enables a touchpad on the device's surface to recognize finger touches and motions, after which the gestures are transmitted via USB to a CPU. Then, the CPU decodes the gestures and sends them to the display on the medical device. "This method allows the user to get the benefits of gesture recognition without ever touching the display," Kandik adds.

Instinct, Kandik notes, is a set of multitouch gesture-recognition software tools consisting of a Windows driver and a separate gesture-recognition library. The Windows driver allows Windows-based systems to utilize the OS-internal human-interface commands and, in the case of Windows 7, gesture-recognition tools. But because not all systems are based on Windows, the company provides a separate gesture-recognition library that enables system integrators to incorporate gesture recognition directly into their drivers or applications.

When a user touches Grayhill's human-interface devices, the touch tracking information is sent to the system, Kandik explains. This information does not contain system-specific commands but simply indicates, for example, that two fingers flicked across the multitouch surface. After handling gesture recognition by monitoring incoming data, the driver or application triggers a command when a gesture is recognized.

The software can be integrated with the company's Multi-Touch Ring Encoder, an optical encoder with a multitouch surface measuring 50 or 70 mm in diameter. Capable of outputting a digital 2-bit quadrature code, the ring is available with 32 or 48 positions and features a surface that can track up to five finger positions simultaneously. "It's those finger positions that Instinct can interpret and act upon," Kandik says. Compact and user-friendly, the ring encoder is also easy to clean.

"We want to give customers flexibility," Kandik remarks. "It's up to them to define which types of inputs trigger which types of events or commands." Thus, one customer might prefer to use gestures to navigate through different screens, while another might prefer the ring encoder to scroll through many options or adjust audio or video settings. "Whatever functions they have in mind," Kandik says, "medical device OEMs can use Instinct to supplement or eliminate existing controls on their devices. Whichever route they choose, the goal is to make the use of their devices more intuitive."

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