When you learned about the Doppler Effect in high school physics class—the wave frequency shift that occurs when the source of the wave is moving, easily illustrated by a passing ambulance—you probably didn’t envision it helping control your computer one day.
But that’s exactly what a group of researchers are doing at Microsoft Research, the software giant’s Redmond, Washington-based lab. Gesture control is becoming increasingly common and is even built into some TVs. While other motion-sensing technologies such as Microsoft’s own Kinect device use cameras to sense and interpret movement and gestures, SoundWave does this using only sound—thanks to the Doppler Effect, some clever software, and the built-in speakers and microphone on a laptop.
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