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What is the SixthSense?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated May 17, 2024
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The SixthSense is a technology that is meant to connect digital information with real world experiences. It is designed to allow users to control digital environments with natural hand gestures, so they do not have to interact with a monitor, keyboard, or touchpad. SixthSense also has the potential to create a real-time link between information in a computer, or on the Internet, and physical objects in the real world.

A SixthSense device connects the tangible world with digital information through the use of cameras and projectors. Generally, portable cameras are used to sense hand movements, and to scan objects in the camera’s view. A portable projector might be used to create an interactive digital display on walls, objects, and even the human hand.

Most SixthSense devices project a digital image in front of a user. This image may be displayed on a wall, person, or any object that stands in its path. It is typically information gathered from the Internet, such as a webpage, photograph, downloaded information about an object or person, or a variety of other types of visual data. For example, a user may be able to project the image of a web browser window onto a piece of paper.

For the most part, SixthSense technology is meant to allow users to interact with the projected image. Typically, using portable cameras, these devices follow hand gestures made by the user in order to manipulate the digital information. This is further enabled by a camera that often hangs from a chain around a user’s neck.

The tips of the user’s fingers and thumbs are typically covered with colored caps that allow the camera to differentiate the controlling fingers from the rest of its vision. Users may then make gestures such as drawing, scrolling, and stretching in order to interact with the digital projection. The hand movements are seen by the camera, translated into the computer, and used to manipulate the image being projected. For example, a user may project a map onto a wall, and use finger motions to zoom in or out on it.

The potential applications for SixthSense technology vary greatly. It can even be used to take digital photos because, in many instances, if a user positions his or her fingers in front of the camera, in the shape of a square, the device takes a picture of the space within the box. This technology may also assist travelers because it can access real-time information — such as flight delays, local weather, or the latest news — when it views objects like boarding passes, weather maps, or newspapers.

Another example of the SixthSense's versatility is the way in which the device may be able to recognize objects as it scans them, allowing the user to access information on the Internet regarding that object. This may be useful in stores, when an individual may wish to get information about a product before purchasing it. It may also be used for accessing personal information, if the camera recognizes a face in a database.

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