The global market for wireless handheld controllers, including Bluetooth® devices, gaming systems, smart TVs and more, is rapidly expanding, and consumers expect to do more than ever with these controllers.
Why is Handheld Motion Control Needed?
We’re seeing new advancements in low-power inertial sensors and Bluetooth Low Energy that lower the power draw significantly for the entire system, which helps drive supply for battery-powered wireless devices. In fact, there are expected to be more than 500 million RF devices shipped in 2022, and consumers will continue to want innovative ways to interact with their technology. A large subset of these RF devices, handheld controllers, could use an update to keep up with the future. In most of today’s applications, styluses only write on screen, presenters still rely on physical laser pointers and over-the-top media services rely on buttons to traverse an ever-growing library of content.
One key solution is motion control. Motion control in handheld wireless controllers offers a precise and interactive user experience to ensure these devices meet and exceed growing consumer expectations.
Sensor fusion software in handheld motion control enables precise tracking of pointing, motion events and gestures, making it easy for users to issue commands or elicit certain actions with simple, natural movements. Software such as the MotionEngine™ Air sensor fusion software stack from Hillcrest Labs (a CEVA company) enables a series of unique features to give devices context for motion data, and grants the user control over the device’s interface with a handheld remote.
Developers can implement handheld motion control interfaces using a number of capabilities available with this kind of software, including:
- Cursor control:The idea of directing a cursor on a 2D or 3D screen by mimicking motion of a controller.
- Gesture tracking:Simple flicks, taps or circles can streamline and shortcut certain actions over a series of menus or extra movement.
- 3D motion tracking:6-axis sensor fusion makes it possible to track 3D motion in AR/VR gaming and other applications, offering a very realistic UX and making latency delays a non-factor.
- Motion event tracking:Motion events like pick-up, flip, or stability detector can intelligently enable power savings to get the most functionality out of every charge.
- Tremor cancellation:This feature cancels out the tiny tremor motions that sensors pick up just from simply holding a controller, so that that motion isn’t translated into any action.
- Button motion suppression:This is another feature that cancels out tiny, unintentional movements. In this case, it suppresses the extra motion that occurs when you press a button or select an option, so that you only select what you want to select.
- Orientation compensation:Handheld motion control software needs to account for this, so that when you move your hand, motion is tracked relative to the starting position, not some arbitrary fixed position pre-determined by the device or system. This is useful for moving your wrist naturally to direct the cursor or other on-screen control, without needing to physically point at the screen with the controller.
Improving UX Across Applications
Features are fantastic but knowing how to apply them to the burgeoning RF controlled device industries is an equally important piece of the pie. I hope some of these industries and applications we’re innovating in help to spark your own use of motion:
- Smart TVs and over-the-top (OTT) media services: Traditionally, most TVs and OTT controllers rely on buttons for users to select options, search titles and browse content. With handheld cursor control, users can glide over the keys of a digital keyboard to type out words, instead of pressing directional keys 20+ times to type out every single word, or similarly glide over a library of shows and movies to select their specific choice.
- Game controllers:With event classification and a low-power accelerometer, a gaming controller could power up as soon as the user “picks it up” or power off after the controller detects ‘stability’ for a pre-set period of time. These always-on sensors create a more seamless experience.
- AR/VR controllers: Low-latency, precise 3D motion tracking in gaming is critical to creating a realistic gaming environment in which the user can naturally move around and control game actions. For motion control, this requires highly accurate sensor-fused orientation of the controller, so that movements are picked up and mirrored perfectly.
- PC peripherals: Handheld motion control can be used in business, educational and other settings where people give presentations or interact with a computer’s interface. Instead of a basic clicker or laser pointer, handheld motion control allows users a more interactive presentation experience. Traditionally while presenting, interacting with slide content requires you to step back to your computer. Cursor control allows you to point and click from afar, without interrupting your flow.
- Touchscreen styluses and pens: Tracking motion in touchscreen pens enables a whole host of capabilities for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Artists can quickly switch between color palettes with a simple flick of the wrist, or users can write in any space, including mid-air, for more seamless interaction with the display. You might also rotate the pen physically in your hands, and have that rotation reflected in the visual on your computer screen. This orientation capability is especially useful in modeling of 3D objects.
Charles Pao is Sr. Marketing Specialist in the Sensor Fusion Business Unit at CEVA. He started at Hillcrest Labs after graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering. He started work in software development, creating a black box system for evaluating motion characteristics. With a passion for media and communications, Charles started producing demo and product videos for Hillcrest Labs. This passion led to an official position transfer into Marketing. Currently, he is Hillcrest’s first point of contact for information and support and manages their marketing efforts. He’s also held various account and project management roles. Charles also earned Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University.