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Scenes from movies come true: Today and Tomorrow of Motion Recognition Technology

Have you ever heard of motion recognition technology, a technology often shown in Sci-Fi films? It may be quite difficult to imagine how these technologies from movies could change our lives. Today, let’s learn a bit about motion recognition technology which took a big step out of movies and into our daily lives.

What is Motion Recognition Technology?


A scene from the movie Minority Report

The photo above is a scene from the movie Minority Report. This scene, in which Tom Cruise is moving multiple screens in the air, is possible thanks to motion recognition technology.

Motion recognition technology is a type of technology which uses various sensors to recognize the motions and location of certain objects. The most important part of this technology, therefore, is the sensor, as it not only recognizes the motions of the user, but also connects the user’s motions to devices to interact.


There are many different types of sensors which function to make motion recognition technology possible. The most common sensors are gyroscopes which calculate changes in an object’s direction by measuring its acceleration, and the acceleration sonsor which measures the movement of the object through the information on its acceleration and inclination. What, then, is the current state of this technology?

The Present State of the Motion Recognition Technology

Motion recognition technology can be divided between controller based technology and camera based technology. The two types of sensors I mentioned earlier are mostly used for the controller based motion recognition technology.


Nintendo WII gameplay

Nintendo Wii especially contributed to the popularization of motion recognition technology. This game from Japan’s company Nintendo adopted the technology to introduce a whole new world of games to the public.


KINECT from Microsoft

There is another game which uses an infrared camera unlike Nintendo Wii, and it is KINECT from Microsoft for realistic gameplay. KINECT has an infrared projector which releases infrared rays and a depth recognition infrared camera which recognizes the reflected infrared rays. These sensors recognize over twenty joints in a human body to read the movements in three dimensions. This technology is thought to be more evolved compared to the existing controller based technology, because it recognizes motions only with cameras and doesn’t require any controllers.

After the popularization of this technology began (thanks to these gaming devices), smart phones have been leading the transition period in the motion recognition technology application field. A smart phone called Vega from Pantech included the motion recognition technology on its devices in 2011 so users could answer the phone and change the volume while enjoying music, DMB, or videos only with their hand motions. It also made it possible to scroll through gallery screens using its embedded infrared sensors.

The studies for motion recognition technology are also being done in Korea. Small-sized Korean companies are more interested in using the already introduced technology and products and structuring the digital signage by utilizing it rather than developing original technology. One good example is a Korean company called DavationUX. This company utilized the existing technology developed in other countries to come up with Keymote, a motion recognition technology. Once you install KINECT from Microsoft, you can control the monitor from a distance without using any mouse our keyboard. Keymote not only allows you to change screens, but also replaces the left and right click and drag on the mouse with your hand motions.


Leap Motion in the center of attention

New methods for motion recognition are also being developed internationally, and one of the hottest is Leap Motion. MIT’s Technology Reviews introduced it as the most important new technology since the invention of smart phones. With this technology, you can control the screen without touching it or using a mouse. You can do more complicated work such as drawing or palying games as well with this new technology very similar to the basic principle of KINECT.


MYO from Thalmic Labs

Thalmic Labs from Silicon Valley in the US launched MYO recently, which didn’t use the common camera based technology that KINECT and Leap Motion used. It went beyond the limit by applying the technology for wearable devices to come up with an arm band by which 25 different motions can be recognized through analyzing the electric signals from the arm and fingers. The device performs its tasks based on the signals from the muscles release when moving so that the users do not require any additional devices for control.

The Future of Motion Recognition

As we saw from the cases mentioned earlier, motion recognition technology is basically a type of broader range of recognition technology. The advancement in motion recognition technology, therefore, means the advancement of general technology for various types of recognition. Let me show you an example.


Iris and fingerprint recognition

We expect to see more various recognition technologies in the future from the innate and physical traits such as fingerprints, faces, iris, and vein patters, to the acquired habits such as walking patterns and handwriting. Though the current bio recognition technology only depend on iris and fingerprint recognition, more exquisite methods for crime investigation will become available once various forms of recognition become possible in the future. The medical field is also going to benefit greatly by developments in these technology.

Today, we learned about motion recognition technology, which, I believe, will experience dramatic change in the future as it is going to be applied to various industries including electronics. Once the technology for motion recognition successfully converges with other technologies and industries, we’ll be able to see a great synergy. In order for this to happen, continuous research for the convergence platform which can support the convergence among different technologies is needed as well. I look forward to actually using these kinds of technology which we could only dream about just a few years ago.

Written by Yongjun Park, University reporter for LG CNS

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  • Mariana Nichols

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