Minalogic, worldwide competitive cluster dedicated to micro and nanotechnologies and embedded software, today announced the results of a four-year collaborative R&D project, NOMAD (Navigation on Mobile Objects and 3D Access).
The project was created to provide practical technology solutions to help small and mid-sized companies meet the increasing challenges for improved user experience in the consumer electronics market. These solutions include new human-machine interaction techniques for future smartphones, tablets etc, adapted to more complex usages and sophisticated applications.
The partnership explored new kinds of interfaces for mobile devices – by using MEMS motion sensors and 3D graphics – while also creating hardware and software platforms and an open-source community to further develop the resulting technology.
"To remain competitive and consolidate their leadership in this battle of mobility, companies are working on new human-machine interfaces that enrich the use of smartphones and tablets,” said Minalogic CEO Jean Chabbal. “The combination of skills within the NOMAD project allowed the partners to capitalize on their different expertise, to develop innovative technologies and thus remain leaders in their markets.”
The project has enabled the development of several technological solutions for future human-machine interfaces on embedded systems:
- “Interaction” software toolbox that allows the creation of innovative user interfaces with integrated 2D and 3D graphics rendering to create alternatives to the traditional window, icon, menu and pointing-device interfaces
- “Motion” software toolbox that uses motion sensors (accelerometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes) for implementing new “in-air” cursor control and gesture-based media content navigation
- Hardware and software platform (Linux & Android) for the development of future smartphones
- A development kit, "Snowball", (from the platform) accompanied by an open- source web community, Igloo (www.igloocommunity.org)
The partners explored several innovative interaction techniques. Demonstrators were developed following a user-centric approach, based on technological building blocks from the project.
NOMAD also contributed to the creation of nationally and internationally recognized local industrial ecosystem by leveraging synergies between large companies, research laboratories and SMEs. Innovative SMEs in the project, such as Calao Systems and Movea, have gained competitive advantages using these technologies in consumer and industrial electronics.
Partners in the project include Myriad Group and ST-Ericsson (large companies), Calao Systems and Movea (SMEs), as well as CEA-Leti and LIG – Grenoble Informatics Laboratory (Research institutes).
Examples of results and direct benefits of NOMAD
In 2011, Nomad partners ST-Ericsson and Calao Systems launched the “Snowball” development kit that helps developers and hobbyists develop new Android and Ubuntu-based devices and applications, with support from the “Igloo” open source community (www.igloocommunity.org).
Today, more than 4,000 Snowball kits are in use worldwide, while ST-Ericsson’s NovaThor platforms - with the same application processors embedded - have become the basis for smartphones from HTC, Samsung, Sony, Motorola and a number of leading Chinese companies.
With Nomad’s motion sensor technology, Movea developed in air cursor-control and gesture recognition applications such as the “Air Mouse” app that turns smartphones into motion enabled media interaction and gaming devices. Myriad Group used insights from the project to develop demonstration systems for using smartphones and tablets as home remote controls, and for 3D visualization of Twitter message streams. CEA-Leti and Movea established a joint lab where they continue to co-develop low-cost, energy efficient motion-sensor applications. LIG continues to research new kinds of human-machine interfaces, and is evaluating technology licenses with Myriad Group and other companies.
NOMAD also fostered the development of demonstrators with new concepts of human-machine interaction, 3D Stream and 3D Home. These demonstrators were used in the overall valuation of the project and as the basis for creating and spinning off new software offerings (such as “Myriad Intelligence Hub” for Myriad).
The 3D Stream: Concept of a social-networks client offering an immersive, fun, customizable, dynamic and contextualized user experience.
The 3D Home: Concept of control, remotely with a smartphone, of the digital media at home via a 3D representation of the house and Gesture Remote Control functionality.
Created in 2005, the Minalogic global competitive cluster in Grenoble is a public/private partnership with more than 200 members dedicated to supporting integration of hardware and embedded software. Minalogic’s collaborative projects are focused on developing products and services that capitalize on the potential of better combinations of micro- and nanotechnology and embedded software. The cluster encourages and supports industry research-training collaborations with companies in Europe, Asia and the U.S., while responding to the global high-tech community's need to identify new value-added services that can be integrated into existing products in health care, the environment, mobility, the media, the textile industry and other areas.