A touch-free interface which allows users to type by activating an imaginary sphere in between their hands has been developed by Swedish programmers. The team behind Erghis say their algorithm-based technology, which uses existing motion sensor hardware, is superior to current swipe technology. They want to develop software that could be adapted for any individual device or gadget. Matthew Stock reports.
Imagine a sphere, held between your hands, that lets you interact with and control any device or gadget. That's the premise of the Erghis Sphere - a touch-free technology that its Swedish designers hope will consign the keyboard to history. The current prototype uses a mini-sensor which tracks a series of hand commands and gestures, with computer visualization showing how it's reacting to them. By twisting and tapping the virtual sphere, users perform all the normal functions of a computer and mouse. Holger Andersson is chief technology officer for from Malmo-based Erghis Technologies. He says their device is superior to current swipe technology which can't precisely differentiate between gestures. SOUNDBITE (English) HOLGER ANDERSSON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER FOR ERGHIS TECHNOLOGIES, SAYING: "There is no distinction between swiping across and moving my hand back to start the next swipe, so what we've done instead is we've based our interaction around an imaginary object. So if you imagine you're holding an sphere in your hands this is what you use to control your devices....And when you're holding the sphere in your hands certain gestures become very natural, like twisting it or tapping the sphere and these are the ones that we use to command, to map our commands to, to control the system." The team says the current Erghis device is simple to use, with volunteers able to find letters and switch commands within 20 minutes. CEO Ors-Barna Blenessy hopes the Erghis experience will inspire users around the world to share their own configurations. SOUNDBITE (English) ÖRS-BARNA BLÉNESSY, CEO OF ERGHIS TECHNOLOGIES, SAYING: "We will try to make this so that you can save your configurations of the sphere and put them online, share them with other people, so that if perhaps someone has made a Chinese language sphere then you should be able to very quickly and easily download it for yourself." Holger Andersson says the next generation of Erghis will use more advanced sensors which can follow users from a distance. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HOLGER ANDERSSON, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER FOR ERGHIS TECHNOLOGIES, SAYING: "All the interaction becomes relative to your hands, so you could move around the room, you don't necessarily need to stand in front of the screen. In fact you don't need a screen to interact with at all, you can interact with any form of technology. So dim the lights in your home and control any sort of smart device." Time will tell if users will be willing cast off the traditional QWERTY keyboard and embrace Erghis with both hands. But developers say their virtual sphere represents a real leap forward in touch-free technology, even if it requires a little imagination.