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In BMW's test, a worker can register a problem by pointing to a faulty section of a part (Photo: BMW)

BMW, in a test of so-called "Industry 4.0" car manufacturing, is using camera-based gesture detection in a pilot project at its plant in Landshut, Germany. The premium car maker is trying out the technology for quality control of bumpers before they are mounted.

The test is designed to reduce the time and effort it takes to check and record each flaw that might be detected in a component. The intelligent system now on trial lets a worker identify a flaw and record it at the same time through the use of gestures. Under the traditional quality control process, this would require a separate trip to a PC.

"The system recognizes the interaction between the person and the bumper," said Ramona Tremmel, the coordinator of the project.

The system works by having cameras register specific gestures, which are then interpreted by software that automatically stores the information. A wiping motion marks the bumper as flawless, while pointing identfies a faulty section.

BMW's gesture-control technology, which was developed in cooperation with the Fraunhofer research institute in Karlsruhe, Germany, isn't designed to replace workers, BMW's production boss, Harald Krueger, said in a press statement.

"For the BMW Group, Industry 4.0 does not mean a production without people, and also not necessarily increasing automation," he said. "This is about making reasonable use of new technology and networking opportunities in order to provide ideal support to people in production and support areas."