Reality goes one better than Sci Fi with a 3D gestural system that doesn't need special gloves and doesn't make a smudged mess of the screen. You just stand and wave your arms about.
Microsoft isn't the only one making news with whole body
input systems (Inside Kinect). Now the Fraunhofer Institute has developed a 3D gestural input system that has the advantage that you don't leave smudges on the screen.
The system detects hand and finger positions in real-time and translates them into standard gestures. The system doesn't require the user to wear gloves or special markers and it works with multiple people at the same time. Users move their hands and fingers around in the air in front of a screen or projection system in a very similar manner to the way Tom Cruise did in the Sci Fi movie Minority Report. In this case the reality is better than the Sci Fi as no special gloves are needed in the real system.
The minority report gestural system needed special gloves!
In the real system you just wave your hands around in front of the screen.
The system is described as using the "Time of Flight" algorithm to sense the 3D depth of each object in the scene. The result is a 3D depthmap which can then be processed by image analysis software to track the movement of the hands and individual fingers. This is very similar to the way Microsoft's Kinect works. In this case however the aim is to track gestures rather than whole body positions. Currently the software has some difficulty with wristwatches and anything that generates reflections.