Microchip breaks into gesture recognition

November 14, 2012

Bernard Cole-November 14, 2012

Building on the GestIC from Ident Technology acquired earlier this year, Microchip is beginning the roll out of a low cost family of devices using gesture technology ranging from notebooks and smartphones to lighting controls.

Driving gesture recognition into the mainstream in a variety of applications are Nintendo with its Wii, Microsoft with Kinect.  In this fast growing segment of the MCU market, Microcchip will be competing with companies such as Ceva and Qualcomm with what it believes is a lower cost solution..

The $2 MGC3130 chip at the core of Microchip’s approach uses just 150 microwatts in an always-on, wake-on-motion mode. It burns 90 milliwatts in full active mode.

The chip works by generating a 15 centimeter high electrical field in the 70-130 KHz range using thin sensing electrodes based on conductive materials such as printed circuit board traces. It features a 150 dpi resolution, sampling at 200 Hz and uses frequency hopping to eliminate interference.

Using algorithms based on stochastic Hidden Markov models, the devices are hardwired to respond to ten gesture types. Developers, however, will have access to raw data to create and interpret their own gestures.

The MGC3130 will cost just $2.26 in high volume and will be in production in April. The chip is sampling now as part of Microchip’s Sabrewing evaluation kit that sells for $169 and includes five- or seven-inch electrodes and a graphical user interface program.

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