Cover Page-Gesture Recognition & Touchless sensing Market: Expert Interviews with Francis MacDougall, Sr. Director Gesture Technology, Qualcomm, Inc.

Gesture Recognition & Touchless sensing Market: Expert Interviews

Anyone who is in tandem with the changes in the consumer electronics industry would not have missed what gesture recognition is and what it holds for the future of human machine interface. Moreover, the industry developments in the recent past evidently support and answer confidently to the question, Is gesture recognition the next big thing? To know more about the technology and its expected future, read below the views of the experts shared with the analysts at MarketsandMarkets.

Interview with Francis MacDougall, Sr. Director Gesture Technology, Qualcomm, Inc. on Gesture Recognition Market.

About the Company: Qualcomm Incorporated engages in the development, design, manufacture, and marketing of digital wireless telecommunications products and services. The company offerings include wireless networks, chipsets, consumer electronics and hardware, mobile content and services, licensing, and developer tools. Qualcomm Incorporated primarily operates in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and U.S.
About Francis MacDougall: He is the Senior Director of Gesture Technology at Qualcomm. He is extensively involved in the development of gesture technologies to create interface techniques for cellphones, tablets and TVs. Prior to Qualcomm he co-founded and served as the CTO of GestureTek, a company involved in the development of gesture recognition software.

Q. 1.   What are the key markets for the gesture recognition technologies?

Francis MacDougall: The major market for gesture recognition technology is of course consumer electronics. In particular we see smartphones, tablets, TVs and laptops as the key target markets for many players due to their sheer volumes. We have seen major product launches in TVs, where people immediately understand why gestures are a fit. They can’t touch the screen and it’s nice to do simple things without having to find the remote. It just makes sense.

The automotive industry is also embracing gesture and we will see the first deployments in 2015. Of course, this is a negligible market in comparison with consumer electronics but could enhance public acceptance of gestures for mainstream use.

Healthcare and retail will be novelty markets for the foreseeable future. The growth will be there but numbers will be very low. Healthcare is a potential market for gesture recognition but is very different from that of consumer electronics, in terms of cost as well as the use cases and required tracking mechanisms.

Q. 2.   What would be the outlook in the consumer electronic space for

gesture recognition after five years?

Francis MacDougall:  By volumes smartphones would be leading the market followed by tablets, laptops and TVs. You can actually observe that gestures make more sense for large form factor devices like tablets, TVs and laptops and the adoption rates in these could be higher. But considering the numbers of phones shipping every year, these devices will come second.

Coming to the technologies that would be in this space, there is scope for a number of technologies like 2D camera based, ultrasonic, capacitive/electric near field and infrared sensor arrays. 3D technologies would be seen in 2015 after price and power cost hit the right point. Until then, they will be used as accessory devices particularly in the living room space.

Q. 3.   What are the current market trends for gesture recognition market

and the scenario over the next five years?

Francis MacDougall: The current trends in the market are primarily based on strategic partnerships between gesture suppliers and various players in the consumer ecosystem . There are opportunities for acquisitions; however this is being made more difficult as the numbers of partnerships increase. Another trend in the market that has become clear is to integrate the gesture recognition software at semiconductor level. This trend has many advantages when it comes to power management and performance due to the tight integration with co-processors and other chip level features.

The focus for OEMs is primarily to give high end experience in devices and as the technology is in the experimental phase, 2013 will see devices shipping with gesture recognition as a special feature to differentiate their products in the market.

Q. 4.   How do you see the gesture recognition market adoption for the

coming five years?

Francis MacDougall: In 2012, we have witnessed very few products with gesture recognition. People have just started using the technology; however the 2013 numbers will begin a trend of greater adoption and should show linear growth. 2014 will be the year this market will start seeing acceleration, and we should see tremendous numbers of releases and mainstream adoption in the following 3 years.

Q. 5.   How do the various technologies such as 2D camera based, 3D

technologies, Ultrasonic etc. stack against each other?

Francis MacDougall: The technologies that have been developed in the last five years have garnered significant market attraction. However, they for most part do not compete with each other.  The adoption of a specific technology is dependent on the desired use cases.

For example, in the 3D tracking space the structured light solutions make sense for living room distances, however these systems do not perform well in certain lighting conditions. In contrast, Time of Flight (ToF) based systems have lower resolution and hence are better for closer distance use cases like laptops and tablets, and their ambient light performance is superior and hence they are also suitable for automotive.

The technologies when used together could actually be complementary to each other. Ultrasonic technology can be used when the user is close to the device and when the user decides to dock the device it can switch to a camera based technology. Overall we see the market adopting a variety of technologies to cover the range from 1cm out to 5m for touch free control.

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