Paul May

Physical Motion Interface

08 December 2003

In 2003 I worked with Kevin Cannon to build a system that allowed a user to accurately control a computer using the motion of his/her hands. This system was called Physical Motion Interface (PMI) and was designed to enable expressive, gestural control of a computer using cheaply available parts. We completed the project in under 6 weeks, and demonstrated PMI more than three years before the introduction of Nintendo's Wiimote; the first mass-market gestural interface.

PMI used a webcam to track the position of two LEDs on an interface glove, translating the position of those LEDs into six recognisable gestures.

In our demonstration software, six gestures were tied to the control of a video player - by gesturing right and left the video would play, fast forward, pause, rewind. Gesturing up and down controlled audio volume.

I was responsible for implementing the image tracking and gesture recognition. Kevin Cannon designed, prototyped and developed the interface glove.

Project Images

The system used an off-the-shelf webcam and custom software to track and LED embedded in a glove. This approach proved to be robust, and allowed for accurate gesture tracking, and assigment of gestures to computer controls.
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  • Paul May is a researcher, interaction designer, and technologist from Dublin, Ireland. He is currently working with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on smart health applications.