As an undergraduate at Wright State University (Fairborn, OH), Mr Hansen studied high-end computer graphics, including modeling, pattern recognition, and simulation, under Dr. Charles B. Ross, who Mr. Hansen credits with seeding and stimulating his ongoing fascination with image and video processing. Near the end of his studies, Mr. Hansen worked briefly with a company which installed and supported remote teleconference/telepresentation facilities for a variety of high-end clients.
While working with that company, Mr. Hansen saw several clients using laser pointers while giving presentations, but the remote facilties could not see what a local presenter was highlighting to a local presentation audience. He recommended that a video stream be added that would show the presentation screen with the laser pointer in it, but at the time, the bandwidth was not available to add the feature. Mr. Hansen thought through several different possible compression schemes, but none of them could be implemented on the available hardware, and all still required significant increase in the available bandwidth for a presentation/conference.
After leaving the telepresentation company, Mr. Hansen completed his studies at Wright State University. During his final year there, while thinking of a way to reduce the bandwidth required to handle communication of the pointer location to remote facilities, he came up with the idea of pre-processing the video stream to extract the location of the pointer and transmiting just those coordinates to the remote sites and synchronizing the mouse pointers at the various distributed locations to the pointer location at the local site.
Already familiar with many of the intricacies of object tracking in a series of video frames, Mr. Hansen set about building and implementing a system which could real-time track the location of an optical pointer relative to a projected computer display. Digital video cameras were non-existant at the time, so much of the early work was on developing/acquiring video digitization systems which would support the idea. By the early 1990s, Mr. Hansen had created a system which, though fairly slow and only capable of processing 3-5 video frames per second, could reliably track and compute virtual mouse coordinates for an optical pointer relative to a projected computer display.