At HTC Vive Developer Conference taking place in Beijing, China on November 14th,2017. HTC announced five important VR ecosystem partners. They are Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, UnionPay and AirSig.
We’re all familiar with the first four companies, but who is AirSig? What makes AirSig be able to stand side by side with China’s biggest companies BAT and UnionPay? Why HTC chose a small company to be one of its important partners of Vive ecosystem? Let’s take a look!
AirSig is the owner of the world first “Air Signature” technology and products, aimed at VR market and evolved its technology to VR/AR gesture and signature recognition solution. Like Harry Potter casing spells, just waving in the air to execute commands easily in VR world. HTC announced the collaboration with the AirSig, incorporating AirSig technology into Viveport SDK. All the HTC Vive developers will be able to use this exclusive technology of accurate gesture and signature recognition in their VR application, providing high-quality VR experiences to consumers.
VR Experience Evolved via adopting AirSig VR/AR Gesture and Signature Solution
AirSig started with signature recognition technology, the pass rate reaches 98% but the hacked possibility is only 0.001%, compatible with NIST standard and at the same security level as fingerprint identification. Therefore AirSig is adopted by well-known financial institutes. Expecting the potentials of VR in many domains, AirSig has evolved its signature recognition and expanded the applicable domains to the world first VR/AR gesture and signature recognition solution. By applying it in VR world, players can have more fluent experiences. This technology has received an exclusive patent.
Vice President of HTC Content Development Platform Steve Wang said: ”In recent years, HTC made every effort to build the VR ecosystem And steps into industries like videos, entertainment, medicals, education, retails and exercising to diversify the ecosystem. HTC is excited to collaborate with AirSig, providing Viveport developers better solution through AirSig’s world disrupting technology.”
Wave the wand to command in a second. The Harry Potter Magic is Coming to VR Eco-system
AirSig VR/AR gesture and signature recognition uses controllers of vendors’ VR system. The player waves the controllers, then AirSig can recognize the waving traces, understand the meaning of the traces and trigger the corresponding actions, including fast changing weapons, performing skills. The player can even create his own "magic" gestures. For example, drawing a lightening shape to cast a "lightening" spell, making magic effect like Harry Potter. On top of that, AirSig can applied to authentication. The player just sign in the air to pass the authentication quickly. Only takes one second to pass authentication in payment or login, no more needs of taking longer time to point and click on the virtual keyboard. It makes more fluent AR/VR experiences for players. Po-kai Chen, CEO of AirSig, said: “ Controller-based gesture recognition was expected to have a bright future, but there was no technical break-through before. AirSig’s accuracy is as high as 98%, it’s the first time to elevate the technology to the practical level. While applying to VR/AR, it will bring the frictionless experiences in VR/AR. Just like swiping on smartphones in the past, small change yet huge revolution！”
For VR/AR gesture recognition, there are 3 types of it – vision-based, mechanical glove and controller-based.
Vision-based: Using technologies like cameras to recognize player’s hands. Renowned ones like Microsoft HoloLens, Intel RealSense and Leap Motion. The pros of this kind of technology is the player does not need to hold the controllers. And it can accurately track finger. However, the performance of gesture recognition is not good enough. Take the most reliable one, HoloLens, for example, it can only recognize “bloom” and “click” gestures, the accuracy is not high.
Mechanical glove: It embeds sensors in the glove, some even has force feedback device. Well-known ones include Manus VR, Noitom. In general, these products have better accuracy at tracking fingers, but lack the gesture recognition capability.
Controller-based: Using default controllers of VR systems to recognize the semantics of gestures. Today vendors’ VR systems are able to track controllers precisely, but they do not provide gesture recognition function. For example, the player can draw a “heart” shape with the controller, but a normal system cannot understand the meaning of the traces is “heart” and trigger a corresponding action. That is exactly the strength of AirSig, and the main reason HTC chose to collaborate with AirSig.
Today there are many game companies developing controller-based gesture recognition. However, the accuracy is only around 70%, way not enough for good user experience. Global companies like Apple, FUJITSU, Sony, and Tencent also invested resources in the related research and development, but none has mature products in the market.
Today we do not have many choices of VR/AR interaction modes, mainly “point” and “collision”. “Point” means pointing the destination with cursor then click to choose; “collision” is to sense player’s movement via motion-capture technology and “collides” with objects in virtual world, for example, hit a ball. But big companies keep pursuing more advanced and intuitive interactive technologies. For example, eye-ball tracking technology caught people’s attention since 2016. Companies like Google, Apple, Oculus acquired related companied. It is expected that accurate gesture and signature recognition will be an essential technology that big VR/AR companies are keen to have.