Perceptual Computing Challenge:Do you have a million dollar idea?

If you’re a developer looking for a task worthy of your jaw-dropping code skills, you’ll want to check out the Intel® Perceptual Computing Challenge, an upcoming contest to be launched soon to encourage fantastically innovative apps that take advantage of everything that perceptual computing has to offer. Using the (free!) Perceptual Computing SDK, developers will be able to show off their ideas, spark future imagination, and maybe even take a few prizes home from the $1 million dollars’ worth of cash and promotions that will be made available.

What inspires you?

Quite frankly, the sky is the limit when it comes to how much you can do with perceptual computing. It’s a technology that is in very early stages yet, and not a whole lot has been done with it quite yet (that’s where you come in). Here are a few idea possibilities for you to roll around that might serve as a jumping off point for the Big One:

-          CAD programs – bring up design requests with simple gestures or voice commands, designing entire buildings and projects in 3D format right in front of you on a table or workstation

-          While surfing the Web, your Web browser responds to simple requests it can work on in the background (“find out where this business is located” or “see if there’s a cheaper source for this item”)

-          While looking at specific sites online, a voice command that you’ve set up can purchase your order instantly (via Amazon or other popular shopping sites), then another voice command could automatically generate social media sharing via your networks

-          You’ve got a speech you need to give, so it’s time for the old practice in front of the mirror trick, right? Instead of that, how about a program that not only identifies poor grammar or unfortunate word choice, but also identifies possible voice or delivery issues (too many pauses, umms and ahhhs) as well as how you hold yourself when you’re giving the speech.

-          Instantly translate something into another language via speech recognition; this could be incredibly helpful especially when you’re listening to a business presentation in another language, but what if you’re at a sports event, party, or just hanging out with a friend? Instant voice recognition paired with language translation could prove to not only be quite convenient, but revolutionary.

-          Use Skype or Google Hangouts interactively – play games together, like Monopoly, with friends and family separated by thousands of miles.

-          A visual passcode – instead of something you type in, the computer scans your retina or thumbprint or a specific gesture to make sure you are who you say you are. In order to make this as secure as possible, a combination of gestures and voice would be the best choice; for instance, clap your hands and whistle.

-          Instead of fiving a presentation at a business meeting and using the same old slides that you’ve always used, take advantage of gestures and voice recognition to really make those presentations shine

-          Making your grandmother’s meatloaf? Instead of getting raw hamburger all over the pages of her fifty-year-old cookbook, you could just wave your hands a little to flip a page – gently, of course. You could also use a voice command to find a different recipe, convert a measurement, or find substitutes depending on what kind of food sensitivity you might be cooking for.

-          Web design – use your hands to design a wireframe from the ground up, with voice activated commands for common tasks (“generate invoice for this customer” or “send this prototype to Bob”)

-          Let your home computer know you’ve had a hard day and when you get home, your favorite classical music is playing along with soft simulated candlelight, with stress-relaxing aromatherapy wafting through the halls.

-          An app activated by a certain tone of voice (designated specifically by register, impact, and possible meaning) that knows you’re upset and asks if you need help (call 911, call doctor, call therapist, etc.)

-          Security for stolen laptops – your passcode must activate certain series of voice and gestures to open computer, so if someone else tries to access they automatically lock out and send you (and possibly the authorities!)  a picture of the perp. All data would be locked down automatically as well, with a ghosted backup image of all drives sent to the cloud for broader security.

-          For elderly users, instead of precise gestures, a series of broader gestures could be used to activate programs and apps. For users that suffer from lack of muscular control – no matter what age they are – this could be life-changing.

-          Racing games where you control the action using just your hands and feet as a gear shift are wonderful, but how about getting someone on there who just got their driving permit for a little bit of extra driving practice? Nothing substitutes for the real thing, but every minute of practice makes for a safer driving experience.

-          How about speech recognition across devices?  What if you could tell your PC or notebook to do something and it relays it to not only your smartphone and tablet, but your spouse’s?

-          Driving instructions for GPS – instead of typing it in, tell them “I’m lost!”, and the device will reroute you.

-          Special needs kids – children who struggle with learning how to correctly interpret facial expressions (autistic) could practice appropriate expressions in the comfort of their own homes

-          Physical therapy – patients could do the same therapy exercises they’re given at the doctor’s office at home via gesture recognition

What do you need to get going on this challenge? While the contest isn’t live yet, the SDK can be downloaded here, and information about the corresponding camera can be found here. The camera is made for near range interactivity on the Ultrabook™ and other laptop devices. The perceptual computing SDK 2013 Beta2 core capabilities include close range hand and finger tracking, speech recognition, face analysis, and 2D/3D object tracking, as well as speech recognition APIs for command and control, short sentence dictation, and text to speech (you’ll need to download the Nuance Dragon Assistant Core to use the speech recognition APIs – you can do that here). Here’s a quick roundup of pertinent links that will help you with that next big idea:

  • All  manuals that are installed with the SDK can be found here
  • All SDKs for perceptual computing can be found here
  • Camera information can be found here (PDF file)

Are you inspired? Hopefully, this article will spur you as a developer onto bigger and better things. Let us know what you think the future of perceptual computing might hold: what are your “pie in the sky” ideas that might not be possible with current technology, but certainly will be in the future? Share with us in the comments section below. 

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