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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Forget Your Keyboard: Turn Your Body into a Touch Screen Computer

Image of a skin-based interface from Huffington Post Article on the subject.

Being someone who is interested in gadgets (see Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning) people are always asking me what is the next big thing. Well I can tell you that one of the next big things (5-10 year horizon) is body acoustics driven interfaces.

What is an acoustics driven interface? It is a new technology created by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University that uses human body acoustics to turn a person's skin into an interactive touchscreen. It is called Skinput and the interface enables a person to use the surface of their skin to control gadgets. Researchers have found a way to exploit the way skin, musculature and skeleton combine to make distinctive sounds when tapped on different parts of the arm, palm, fingers and thumb.

Check out this article on the subject: Body acoustics can turn your arm into a touchscreen

Read a research article on subject called Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface. As the article states:
Appropriating the human body as an input device is appealing not only because we have roughly two square meters of external surface area, but also because much of it is easily accessible by our hands (e.g., arms, upper legs, torso). Furthermore, proprioception – our sense of how our body is configured in three-dimensional space – allows us to accurately interact with our bodies in an eyes-free manner. For example, we can readily flick each of our fingers, touch the tip of our nose, and clap our hands together without visual assistance. Few external input devices can claim this accurate, eyes-free input characteristic and provide such a large interaction area.

And, check out the YouTube video on the subject.


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annb said...

Wow - That's human computer interaction at a whole new level!

annb said...

I am fascinated by the prospect of body acoustic driven interfaces. We are just now getting comfortable with using different surfaces for computing and this is a logical and exciting next step. Components have been getting smaller and smaller, all in the name of usability. There are times that pda's can be TOO small, though, creating problems in terms of having enough space to enter data or even exasperating the most vexing of all problems - misplacing your pda.

I am interested to see if this technology will develop separately or together along with eye-tracking and virtual reality tools like the ireality Data Glove. While voice recognition continues to be integrated in small ways, the issues with discrete-word recognition are a limiting factor to rely on voice, alone. The ability to integrate voice and text makes body acoustic driven interfaces an exciting advancement. Last, the flexibility of using different parts of the skin as a touch screen is very promising in terms of universal usability for those with disabilities. Thanks for the information and links regarding this subject.

diane said...

would be great if we all had a virtual keyboard on our body, when I was young I thought things like that but only in dreams, now this can be a reality! as a teenager I read a book called Business Affiliate Program in the book, it was about the inventions that could be in the future!