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E-field-based, 3D gesture controller designed for mobile apps

Posted: 19 Nov 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:gesture controller  3D  position tracking 

Microchip unveils the MGC3130 claimed as the world's first electrical-field (E-field)-based, 3D gesture controller, offering low-power, precise, fast and robust hand position tracking with free-space gesture recognition.


With power consumption as low as 150µW in its active sensing state, the MGC3130 enables always-on 3D gesture recognition—even for battery-powered products where power budgets are extremely tight. The MGC3130's low-power design and variety of power modes provide the lowest power consumption of any 3D sensing technology—up to 90 per cent lower than camera-based gesture systems, according to the company.

Microchip's patented GestIC technology achieves the exceptionally high gesture-recognition rates required by today's consumer products through its on-chip library—called the Colibri Suite—of intuitive and natural human gestures.

The Colibri Suite combines a stochastic Hidden Markov model and x/y/z hand-position vectors to provide designers with a reliable set of recognised 3D hand and finger gestures that can be easily employed in their products. Examples include Wake-Up on Approach, Position Tracking, Flick Gestures, Circle Gestures and Symbol Gestures to perform functions such as on/off, open application, point, click, zoom, scroll, free-space mouse-over and many others.

Designers can use this library to get to market quickly and reduce development risks by simply matching their system commands to Microchip's extensive set of predetermined and proven gestures.

Additionally, the chip provides developers with the flexibility to utilise pre-filtered electrode signals for additional functionality in their applications.

GestIC technology utilises thin sensing electrodes made of any conductive material, such as Printed Circuit Board (PCB) traces or a touch sensor's Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) coating, to enable invisible integration behind the device's housing. This allows for visually appealing industrial designs at very low total system costs. Additionally, the technology provides 100 per cent surface coverage, eliminating "angle of view" blind spots found in other technologies. With a detection range of up to 15 cm, the MGC3130 is the ideal technology for products designed to be used in close proximity for direct user-to-device interaction.

The MGC3130 provides a sophisticated, precise and robust 3D gesture-interface and hand-position tracking solution, with features such as:
 • 150 DPI, mouse-like resolution, and a 200Hz sampling rate to sense even the fastest hand and finger motions
 • Super-low-noise analogue front end for high-accuracy interpretation of electrode sensor inputs
 • Auto Wake-Up on Approach at 150 microwatts current consumption, enabling always-on gesture sensing in power-constrained mobile applications
 • Automated self-calibration, for continued high accuracy over a product's lifetime
 • 32bit digital signal processing, for real-time processing of x/y/z positional data and the Colibry Suite gesture library
 • Integrated Flash memory for the easy upgrading of deployed products, in the field
 • 70-130kHz E-field with frequency hopping to eliminate RF interference, and resistance to ambient light and sound interference

Microchip's new Sabrewing MGC3130 Single Zone Evaluation Kit is available now via any Microchip sales representative. It enables development with the MGC3130 by providing a selectable electrode size of 5" or 7". The kit comes with the AUREA Graphical User Interface—also available via a free download at the Microchip website—which allows designers to easily match their system commands to Microchip's Colibri Suite. The Colibri Suite is an extensive library of proven and natural 3D gestures for hands and fingers that is pre-programmed into the MGC3130.

Samples of Microchip's MGC3130, featuring GestIC technology, are also available today in a 5x5 mm 28-pin QFN package. Volume production is expected in April 2013 in high volumes.

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