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13 Reel To Real Technologies To Covet

Leonard Nimoy, the actor
who played human-alien philosopher and first officer Mr Spock in the original
Star Trek TV series, may have beamed up to a better place, but his legacy, and
that of the series, continues to live on and thrive. So chin up Trekkies and
sci-fi fans, it’s not quite goodbye yet. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes
are ideas that have spawned from that show. Ideas which continue to live long
and prosper.

After
all, sci-fi is more than just a movie genre about little green men and epic
star ship wars. It inspires futuristic technology, challenging scientists and
engineers to turn the radical into the everyday.

Communication devices a la Star Trek? Been there, done that.
Robocop’s augmented reality ‘justice visor’? Hello, Google glass. Tron’s
virtual reality? Try the Oculus Rift. And remember how Tom Cruise’s character
leafed through holographic reports by swiping his hands over them in 2002’s
Minority Report? That’s now a reality.

Gesture
recognition will change the way we interact with computers. The technology
usually involves a standard camera to track hand motions, eye movements or
facial expressions, which are then translated into actions on your computer and
devices. For instance, instead of physically moving a mouse to move the cursor,
you simply point or stare.

Sci-fi
tech is no longer fiction, folks. So say thank you, Mr Spielberg. Now get ready
to want one.

 

#1 Myoelectric Armband

© Thalmic Labs. Reproduced for review only.

The MYO
armband (US$149 from
www.thalmic.com) by Thalmic Labs lets you control your
playlist with a snap of your fingers or scroll through Powerpoint slides without
a clicker. Unlike Leap Motion, the MYO armband doesn’t track your movements
with a camera. Instead, it relies on myoelectric sensors to pick up electrical
impulses in your arm muscles when you move. It then translates those movements
into gestures on your devices.

Reasons to covet this: Finally, smudge-free touchscreens!

Want-O-meter: 9/10

 

#2 Leap Motion

What is it: Look ma, no hands! Sort of. This diminutive USB motion sensor device (US$79.99 from www.leapmotion.com) by American company Leap Motion lets users interact with their computers simply by waving their digits around. Using infrared optics and cameras, the device tracks both hands and all 10 fingers so users can flick, pinch and zoom pages without ever touching anything.

Reasons to covet this: You can finally eat and surf without leaving a trail of orange Cheeto dust all over your PC.

Want-O-meter: 8/10

 

#3 eyeSight

Created by
an Israel-based company, eyesight lets users control devices by simply pointing
at it. The touch-free technology is 100 per cent software-based and only
requires a standard camera to work. It. To navigate, move your finger to direct
the cursor then push your finger into the air to click like you would a remote
controller. Too bad it’s not for consumer use yet.

Reasons to covet this: You’ll have one more thing in common with
Tom Cruise than the average Joe.

Want-O-meter: 6/10

 

#4 NUIA eyeCharm

© 4tiitoo AG. Reproduced for review only

The NUIA eyeCharm, by Munich-based start-up 4titoo, piggybacks on Microsoft’s Xbox motion controller, Kinect, to offer a handsfree way to interact with your computer. The wallet-friendly eye-tracking device (US$60 from
http://4tiitoo.com), which comes with a suite of companion apps, lets users scroll through web pages, browse photo albums or launch tools in programmes like PhotoShop by simply shifting their gaze.

Reasons to covet this: Welcome to couch potato nirvana.You may never have to lift a finger to do anything again.

Want-O-meter: 8/10

 

#5 PointGrab

Similar to eyeSight,
PointGrab lets users command computers to do their bidding through pointing and
is already available on Fujitsu, Acer and Lenovo laptops and computers that run
on Windows 8. The Tel Aviv-based company has also developed AirTouch and
PointSwitch, technologies that allow users to dim the lights, pull down the
shades, adjust the air conditioning and lock/unlock doors by pointing.

Reasons to covet this: It’s like a cooler version of the sound-activated
clapper electrical switch without the annoying clapping.

Want-O-meter: 7/10

 

#6 Elliptic
Labs

Here’s
technology that Batman and his winged companions would appreciate. Instead of
cameras, Elliptic Labs uses ultrasound to track hand gestures. Their first-of-its-kind
technology is designed to operate on the Windows 8 platform on tablets, smartphones
and even cars, and works with run-of-the-mill audio tools on standard devices to
translate the reverberations from hand movements into commands.

Reasons to covet this: All you need now is a bat cave and an English
butler.

Want-O-meter: 9/10

 

#7 Eye Tribe

© The Eye Tribe. Reproduced for review only

If this
Danish tech start-up has its way, we’d all be playing Fruit Ninja on our
touch-screen devices using only our eyes. The Eye Tribe has been working on
affordable eye-tracking technology that will allow users to interface with
their devices with their eyes. Their eye tracker device costs US$99
(https://theeyetribe.com) and doesn’t demand hi-tech specs to work (all you
need is a basic webcam). Comprising a camera and a high-resolution infrared
LED, the rectangular tracker, which can be hooked onto a tablet, tracks user’s
pupils with sub millimetre precision. While only intended for developers for
now, the technology will soon be available in new mobile devices launching
soon.

Reasons to covet this: You’ve always wanted looks that could kill? Wish
granted.

Want-O-meter: 7/10

 

#8 Airwriting

Express yourself with your fingers. No, not
that one! Using a glove fitted with gyroscopes and accelerometers to detect hand movements like the Wii-glove, this technology, which is still being developed by scientists at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, lets wearers write text messages or compose e-mail by writing in the air instead of typing on too-small keyboards.

Reasons to covet this: It looks a little silly waving your mitts around, but your big, fat opposable thumbs will thank you.

Want-O-meter: 7/10

 

#9 Tobii EyeX

Created in Sweden-based
lab, Tobii, the Rex is another eye-tracking device that works with any computer
running on Windows 8. Slightly thicker than a pen, this USB peripheral sits
between a laptop’s screen and deck to capture eye movements and lets users use
their peepers in place of a mouse cursor. Unfortunately, Tobii Rex is costly
(US$795) and only available to developers for now. A less-pricey consumer
version is in the pipeline.

Reasons to covet this: This ingenious gadget takes the term ‘eye
power’ to a whole new level. NSmen, you know who you are.

Want-O-meter: 6/10

 

Jedi Mind Control 101

Here’s another reel-to-real tech trend that’s
getting both cinephiles and technophiles excited. Any Star Wars fan who’s ever
fantasised about harnessing the Force of Jedi Knighthood can now see their
thoughts translate into action with mind-controlled technology. A mind is a
terrible thing to waste. So why use your hands to control your surroundings
when you can use your brain? Currently making waves in neuroscience and
prosthetic research, brain computer interface projects may some day open new
doors for the mobility-impaired to interact with the world around them through
electronics. The best part? The revolution has already begun.

 

#10 Emotiv EPOC

© Emotiv. Reproduced for review only

Turn
thoughts into action with the Emotiv EPOC (US$399 from
https://emotiv.com),
which uses a futuristic-looking headset to pick up on your brain waves to tell
the selected system what you want to do. When incorporated into an electrical
application, EPOC could even be used to control a car or wheelchair.

Reasons to covet this: Did someone say Professor X?

Want-O-meter: 8/10

 

#11 DARPA’s Prosthetic Arm

The age of
the Bionic Man may be closer than you imagine. Tapping into the science of
mind-control, DARPA is revolutionising the field of prosthetics with bionic
limbs that allow amputees to control their new appendages with their thoughts,
much like Will Smith’s character in I, Robot. Bulging biceps not included.

Reasons to covet this: You finally stand a chance of beating your
cousin Moira at arm wrestling.

Want-O-meter: 8/10

 

#12 Necomimi And Shippo

© Neurowear. Reproduced for review only

So this gadget
leans more towards the fluffier side of neuroscience, but controlling a pair of
wearable furry ears and tail with your thoughts is still pretty doggone fun.
Created by Japanese company Neurowear, Necomimi and Shippo (http://neurowear.com)
work in conjunction with the NeuroSky headset and react like furry mood rings
according to your brainwaves. When you’re calm, the ears flop down and up when
you’re excited. Similarly, the tail wags according to your mood: slowly when
you’re relaxed, faster when you’re psyched.

Reasons to covet this: Great for clueless boyfriends. No more
guessing what mood your girlfriend is in anymore.Score!

Want-O-meter: 6/10

 

#13 Orbit Helicopter

© Puzzlebox. Reproduced for review only

Before you
can fly a Jedi Starfighter, you have to first learn to pilot a miniature craft
like the Orbit helicopter (US$149 from
https://puzzlebox.io/orbit/). Users can
fly the Orbit, a small helicopter with propellers that spin inside a spherical
cage, by focusing their concentration while wearing the NeuroSky MindWave headband
that measures the brain’s electrical activity.

Reasons to covet this: Miniature helicopter today, Jedi Starfighter
tomorrow.

Want-O-meter: 9/10

 

 

By Ki’ern
Tan/ March 09, 2015 12:05PM GMT+8

Tags: Tech Storm, TechStorm, TV, Real Technology, High Tech, Jedi, Star Wars, Star Trek, Movement, Future, Futuristic Technology, Technology, Myoelectric Armband, Leap Motion, eyeSight, NUIA eyeCharm, PointGrab, Elliptic Labs, Eye Tribe, Airwriting, Tobii EyeX, Emotiv EPOC, DARPA, Shippo, Necomimi, Orbit, Helicopter

 

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