positional tracking. “Because one side [the controller] is transmitting ultrasound and the other side [the HMD] is receiving ultrasound it enables you to track a device (controller or HMD),” Kiang said. What this means is that users aren't restricted to just looking around virtual environments as is the case with today's mobile VR products like the Samsung Gear VR. Instead users will be able to move around VR environments as well – creating a mobile VR experience on par with the tethered hardware experience but without the space restrictions of camera- and light-based systems.
Better Than Touch?
But when users think about all the control schemes available to them, everything from touchscreens, to voice recognition, and even your everyday, standard keyboard and touchpad/mouse, are any of these really so inconvenient? Touch screens especially have proven themselves to be a more than worthy solution for many mobile applications (just ask all the iPhone users out there).
Kiang fully agrees with this assessment and said that Chirp's aim is not to replace touchscreens entirely. She admits there are plenty of applications where touchscreens, for example, are ideal. “We're looking at devices that don't necessarily need or want a touch screen, but would love to add interactivity.” she said. Wearables such as smart glasses again come up as an ideal application. “It's a way to add interactivity without having to add a touchscreen or external controller,” Kiang said. Also, ultrasound isn't subject to some of the limitations of a touch screen and can still be used in the presence of water, dirt, and require at least one hand to be occupied.
“Anytime we think of things with a touchscreen, we can improve the experience,” she said, adding that Chirp will be able to expand the market since touchscreens can't be used in very device in every application. “We have developed a really unique ultrasound technology that addresses a broad range of user interface challenges we're seeing in different spaces.”
Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.