OK, I'm not sure why - I don't even go to shops that much - but the first application that came to mind when I saw the Roadtest announcement for the MGC3130 3D gesture recognizer kit was:
"Hey! It would be interesting if we could create interactive shop windows". Something where the sensor sits behind the glass - safe from the elements and out of reach - that customers could use with gestures e.g. to scroll through a product catalog on a large TV screen or interact with the products on display.
Actually, I know exactly why this came to mind. I had discussed something similar months ago with the people behind the #CANTHELPMYSELFIE campaign that ran across FCUK shops in the UK
In that case they used simple optical sensors to detect the hand press and trigger vote on which photo should win.. That was enough for their application, but it got me thinking there must be a better way to do more. Some systems use cameras and very advanced - and very complicated - image recognition. But that's expensive, power hungry and high sensitive to light conditions.
I also tried capacitive sensors, but those didn't work at all across the thick shop window glass. Users would have to really rub their hands on the glass to even get a tiny reading - but that's dirty, not only for the shop window but also for the people using it.
So when I received my Hillstar Development Kit, gratefully offered by Element14, I had great curiosity to try it. But where to get approval to use a shop window... Well as luck would have it the Newcastle MakerSpace is located in a old shop with thick display windows! Excellent.
So I attached the Hillstar to the window (using simple sellotape, we're hackers after all) - by the way one great thing about the Hillstar is that you can take it apart down to the PCB, just unscrew the plastic protective cover, this helps with the sensing by reducing the overall distance. Then I connect my laptop to it to run Aurea, the calibration software.
Here's a photo of the setup, you can see the Hillstar amongst the friendly MakerSpace rubber duckies. It's hard to see here, but the Hillstar is really taped behind the glass.
And here's video of it in action. You can see the events showing up on the Aurea software running on my laptop behind the Hillstar:
I have to admit I was very surprised. It worked perfectly - with simple autocalibration.
Il have to try this is at more locations, I understand not all shop glass is the same: there's thicker ones, some are metalized, some have lead?
But, in any case, the fact that this worked with such a minimal setup is very encouraging.
I can't wait to see interactive shop windows powered by the MGC3130 . I might even start to enjoy going out shopping more!