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Wave to the PC It's paying attention

LAS VEGAS - Nintendo Corp.'s Wii game console is a breakout hit in large part because users control the play by waving around a motion-sensing wireless controller. Many new gadgets are taking the idea of such an intuitive interface several steps further. Soon, you may be able to control computers, television sets, even cell phones with hand gestures alone.

In one demonstration by 3DV Systems at the International Consumer Electronics Show here this week, users stood in front of a large screen and controlled a Windows computer with hand gestures: thumb left to go left, index finger right to go right, victory sign for Enter.

In another demo, when a 3DV employee did boxing motions an avatar on the screen in front of him mimicked the movement of his entire upper body - quite a step up from the boxing game of the Wii, which only senses the movement of the controllers.

3DV has another and quite exotic way of sensing depth, that works with a single camera. The lens is surrounded by a ring of diodes emitting pulses of invisible infrared light, up to 60 per second. The light bounces off whoever is standing in front of the camera, and the camera measures when it comes back. Light reflected by closer objects returns faster.

"When light hits your nose, it gets back quicker than the light that hits your cheek," said 3DV spokesman Rich Flier.

3DV plans to make its camera available to consumers by the end of the year, for less than $200, but it's lacking a big-name manufacturer to build it into screens or bundle it with game consoles.

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