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I/UCRC Success Story | BSAC and Gesture Recognition


We are very excited about the gesture recognizer.
It combines technology developed at UC Berkeley at the Sensor and Actuator Center and at the
Swarm Laboratory. By focusing on the power and size constraints of mobile devices, we’ve
created a new and natural way for interacting with electronics. For a long time, people
have used light to detect objects, like the way a camera works, but using light and cameras
to detect objects in 3D requires a lot of power and computation. Now, inspired by medical
ultrasound, we’ve made micromachined ultrasonic transducers that operate in air. The best
part is that the sensor is really small and really low-power. Whereas a camera takes one
Watt to record video, our sensor takes 400 microwatts to do 3D range finding. That’s
low enough power to run the system for 30 hours on a battery this small. It’s so small,
you might not even be able to see it. We built a prototype unit that demonstrates this technology.
This is the ultrasound chip, and this is the custom chip that sends and receives electrical
signals from the ultrasound chip. We use an array of tiny ultrasound transducers to send
a pulse of sound waves into the environment. We drive the sensor, and it moves up and down,
pushing the sir back and forth and creating sound waves. The sound waves travel out through
the chip and away from the transducers. Those waves bounce off objects in the environment,
and the echoes return to the transducer array, which measures the time it took the echoes
to return. From the time of flight, we find the location of the objects relative to the
sensor. This allows us to enable new user interfaces, like flipping through a photo
gallery without even touching the screen. This is the type of technology that we expect
to beyond the borders of the university and into numerous applications that will leverage
the small size and low power dissipation of this technology. We believe that by improving
the way we interact with our devices, and the way we interact with each other, we can
make a better. smarter, more connected world.

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