A representative from Mapúa Institute of Technology demonstrates how an application developed by the school’s computer engineering students works at the start of the Department of Science and Technology's exhibit at the SMX Convention Center. Using the highly popular Microsoft Kinect SDK, she can control the Windows mouse cursor through hand gestures only.
The first time that the three computer engineering (CpE) students from Mapúa Institute of Technology publicly showcased the computer program they developed was at the annual Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) nationwide exhibit at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Students Jeston O. Babila, Rommer Son A. Cañete and Girly G. Perando have designed an application that allows a user to control the Windows mouse cursor through hand gestures only. They made use of the highly popular Microsoft Kinect SDK, a computer gaming software that recognizes body gestures.
It was a big hit at the exhibit as people, professionals and students alike, flocked to their booth and gave it a try. They navigated through various programs, including a Powerpoint presentation, and played popular computer games, controlling the cursor through the pre-set hand gestures.
“We talked to different kinds of people - from students to professionals, from kids to grown- ups. We demonstrated our project to them and we received different kinds of responses. But the most rewarding was the fact that they enjoyed it judging by their smiles and laughter as they tried the application,” Cañete said.
It was no surprise that the computer program had caught the attention and interest of a great number of those who came to the DOST exhibit. It was not only innovative but also highly entertaining and very interactive.
“And this also might serve as a good alternative for gaming inputs and PC control. Instead of playing PC games with ordinary mouse device, they may use the program and make it more enjoyable,” Cañete said.
How it works
The CpE students designed the computer program for their thesis project titled “Virtual Mouse and Program Shortcuts using Microsoft Kinect SDK with User Tracking.”
Aside from controlling the mouse cursor using gestures, the application also allows the user to customize five program shortcuts and access them through hand motions.
For the application to work successfully, it needs the following components – gesture controls, Kinect sensor, motor hardware and computer.
A user assigns his desired gesture controls, while the Kinect sensor is connected to the computer through USB serial port. The Kinect sensor is responsible for detecting hand motions.
Once the sensor recognizes the gesture successfully, it passes the data to the computer program developed by the students. This software application will validate the gesture and send control signals to allow the user to manipulate the mouse cursor and access the shortcuts.
“In addition, our program does not only provide mouse control and shortcuts but it also has a user- tracking mechanism that allows Kinect sensor to move horizontally to the direction of the user. Kinect, just like a normal camera, has a limited view but with a tracking mechanism, the user does not need to be positioned in one area,” Babila said.
The same computer program also commands the motor hardware to move the Kinect sensor horizontally. It adjusts the position of the Kinect sensor when the user is out of range.
Both Babila and Perando believe that the user-tracking mechanism is the unique feature of their computer program.
Cañete added: “Gesture control might not be new as several gesture-based applications are already being developed. But in our project, the concept of applying Kinect for full mouse control and PC control support with user-tracking mechanism is fresh.”
Cañete also said he and his group will still introduce improvements to their application to achieve a “more refined detection of gestures and possibly support for keyboard functions.”
Meanwhile, the three students admitted that their participation in the DOST exhibit was an unforgettable and “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” It exposed them to other ideas and further enhanced their interest in science and technology. It also made them proud that they were able to represent Mapúa in the nationwide exhibit.
“We learned to appreciate science and technology even more. In the event, you can see hundreds of bright ideas that came from the creative minds of our fellow inventors. I can’t imagine how each of them managed to create such a wonderful invention. Truly, Filipinos are very talented and intelligent. No doubt, these technologies and innovations are among the best we Filipinos can truly be proud of,” Cañete said.
Using the highly popular Microsoft Kinect SDK, Mapúa Institute of Technology’s computer engineering (CpE) students developed an application that allows the user to control the Windows mouse cursor through hand gestures only. In the photo are (L-R) the team’s adviser, Engr. Ayra Panganiban, and CpE students Rommer Son A. Cañete, Girly G. Perando and Jeston O. Babila