The World’s Patent Databases are filled with all sorts of technological advances, that may never make it to the market. So just because we have not seen certain gesture recognition applications appear in the shops, that does not mean they were not invented. See for example this nice invention by my former employer Philips.
Philips invented a new dance to catch the stars? (source Wipo)
The trouble with patents is that for most people they are hard to read. The pictures are obscure and require the text to explain them. The text itself is written to conform to certain legal standards and is full of references to prior art. The title and abstract of the example above are a nice case of such patent-language.
(WO/2007/020573) INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM AND METHOD OF OPERATION THEREOF An interactive entertainment system comprises a plurality of devices providing an ambient environment, gesture detection means for detecting a gesture of a user, and control means for receiving an output from the gesture detection means and for communicating with at least one device. The control means is arranged to derive from the output a location in the ambient environment and to change the operation of one or more devices in the determined location, according to the output of the gesture detection means.
Are you still interested in patents? Think you can get around the lawyer-talk and see the ideas behind them? If you are willing to spend a bit of your attention I think you will be well rewarded. Below I give you the most useful links to online patent searches. The first one to spot the gesture inflatable doll gets a special mentioning.
Wipo probably offers the best search capability. They let you create an RSS-feed of any search (no account necessary). But it only contains world patents (WO). That sounds a bit strange, but it means only patents that have been applied for to be valid worldwide. And many patents are just valid for the US, or just for Europe. Those patents do not show up in these results. Search: gesture, gesture recognition, gesture synthesis.
At Esp@ceNet they discovered fossil technology called cookies. So you can search all you want, then add it to ‘MyPatents list’ which is kept as a cookie on your local computer. No account, no RSS-feeds, no alerts. You are on your own (computer). Now I use several computers and simply dislike cookie-solutions.
Esp@ce does offer a choice of coverage: Wipo, European, or ‘Worldwide’. Especially the ‘worldwide’ option is nice since it is a collection of patent applications of about 80 countries. Search worldwide for: gesture (in title or abstract); gesture recognition; gesture synthesis.
The website FreePatentsOnline also accesses USPTO patents and applications as well as European (EP) patents. They offer to save searches. Search for patents (US and European patents and US applications): gesture (abstract, last 20 years), gesture recognition, gesture or sign language synthesis and avatars. RSS-feed are unfortunately only provided for entire categories, not for searches. If you create an account with your email address, you can get alerts however.