SoundWave: Using the Doppler Effect to Sense Gestures

Established: November 28, 2016

Gesture is becoming an increasingly popular means of interacting with computers. However, it is still relatively costly to deploy robust gesture recognition sensors in existing mobile platforms. We present SoundWave, a technique that leverages the speaker and microphone already embedded in most commodity devices to sense in-air gestures around the device. To do this, we generate an inaudible tone, which gets frequency-shifted when it reflects off moving objects like the hand. We measure this shift with the microphone to infer various gestures. In this note, we describe the phenomena and detection algorithm, demonstrate a variety of gestures, and present an informal evaluation on the robustness of this approach across different devices and people.


  • Portrait of Sidhant Gupta

    Sidhant Gupta

    RESEARCHER, Clinical Sensing and Analytics

  • Portrait of Dan Morris

    Dan Morris

    Principal Researcher and Deliverer of Rock

  • Portrait of Desney Tan

    Desney Tan

    Senior Director, Clinical Sensing and Analytics

  • Portrait of Shwetak Patel

    Shwetak Patel