ARCHIVED - Media Sniff Out the Story on Nouse - the Nose as Mouse

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December 04, 2004— Ottawa, Ontario

The Nouse technology, developed over three years ago by Dr. Dmitry Gorodnichy at the NRC Institute for Information Technology (NRC-IIT), has recently been the focus of widespread media attention. Initiating the media charge was Britain's popular science magazine, the New Scientist, which published an article on Nouse after the recent release of a new international journal publication focusing on the technology.

The "Nouse", short for "nose as mouse" has captured broad public interest from regions as far off as China, Russia and South Africa. The technology prototype is recognized as the first to use the nose as the principle feature for facial tracking, a process that involves hooking up a webcam to a computer equipped with tracking software. The computer registers an image of your nose and then maps it onto the on-screen cursor, which you control with the movement of your nose. The nose's convex shape enables the computer to track movements with dramatically improved precision over traditional methods. Even if you turn your head to either side, the nose will always be within view of the camera, unlike the eyebrows or the mouth, which were formerly used for facial tracking.

Man using
Man using "nouse" technology

When asked about all the media attention surrounding Nouse and related perceptual vision technologies, Dr. Gorodnichy of NRC-IIT's Computational Video Group said, "people seem to recognize the importance of vision and they were eager for the creation of computers that can see. Although computer vision has existed for some time, it was not within the average person's reach." Dr. Gorodnichy further explained, "Now, with the increased precision and robustness of Nouse, as well as the inexpensive cost of web cameras and mainstream use of such technologies, people want to take advantage of the technology. Nouse and tools such as Blink Detection and Facial Memorization and Recognition offer exciting, new vision-based and hands-free interaction with computers that respond to their needs."

While the original name and the novelty of the invention certainly helped captivate readers' attention, it is the potential applications for the tool that sparked response. Curious readers flocked to the Nouse Web site to play a round of NousePong or Bubble Frenzy, two video games controlled using perceptual vision techniques. Yet beyond the fun, Nouse and its perceptual vision technology off-shoots, such as Blink Detection and Facial Memorization and Recognition can also be applied to more practical areas, including security, biometrics, and immersive and collaborative environments, as well as in the development of hands-free devices for those with physical disabilities, one of its more obvious applications.

Building on Nouse, EyeBlink Detection and Facial Memorization and Recognition are two features that have been incorporated into Nouse technology. To activate Nouse, all you have to do is simply blink twice. Depending upon the programming of the technology, eyeblinks could be used to activate any number of commands. As for the addition of Facial Recognition, your computer will soon be able to recognize you and greet you by name. These new tools are focused not on replacing current technologies, but are responding to a need to provide end-users with alternatives for remote interaction with computers.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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