Skip to main content

Hillcrest Licenses Pointer Technology To Sony, LG

Hillcrest Labs has licensed its motion-sensitive pointer technology to Sony and LG Electronics, which is using the technology in a "Magic Wand" remote bundled with some of its first Internet-connected 3DTVs.

Sony Computer Entertainment -- whose products include the PlayStation 3 game console -- signed a worldwide intellectual-property licensing agreement that will provide it with access to Hillcrest's patent portfolio for Freespace, the company's in-air pointing and motion-control technology. Additional details about the agreement were not disclosed.

In August 2008, Hillcrest filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nintendo, alleging the videogame company's Wii controller violated four patents relating to handheld three-dimensional pointing devices and navigation interface display systems that graphically organize content for display on a TV. The companies settled the dispute last year.

LG, meanwhile, is using the Freespace technology for its first 3D-ready, Internet-connected HDTVs that are currently shipping in the Korean market and soon will be available worldwide.

The Magic Wand remote will be included in certain models within LG's new Infinia line of LED LCD HDTVs. The "Magic" user interface lets users access Internet-based applications -- including LG's NetCast service -- television menus, games and other features using hand motions to control an on-screen cursor on the television.

Other companies Hillcrest has licensed the Freespace motion-sensing technology to include Kodak; Logitech, which uses the technology in the MX Air wireless mouse for PCs; and Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI), a supplier of remote controls to cable operators, retailers and consumer-electronics manufacturers.

Rockville, Md.-based Hillcrest also sells the $99 Loop pointer directly to consumers. To encourage sales of that product, the company released a free Web browser designed for big-screen TVs called Kylo.

However, Hulu -- one of the most popular video sites on the Internet -- has repeatedly blocked Kylo from accessing its service. The Internet TV venture, owned by Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and News Corp., has introduced its own direct-to-TV strategy with the subscription-only Hulu Plus service, in partnership with Samsung and others.