Skinput Turns Your Arm Into A Remote

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News Posted: Fri, Mar 5 2010 10:43 AM
PCs continue to get more powerful, and mobile smartphones continue togain functionality that could have never been imagined just a few yearsago. But little attention in the mainstream is paid to how we controlall the gizmos that we encounter in our lives. The mouse and keyboardcombo has been the go-to tandem for years now, and the touchpad hasbeen another stereotypical choice for controlling a cursor when spacecame at a premium. Brain-control interfaces have been reserved foruniversities and labs, while anything more elaborate than a meremulti-touch display is seen as too wild for Joe Six Pack.

Hopefully, the tide is turning. Over the past one or two years, we haveseen engineers at TED detail a "Sixth Sense" type of device that wouldintertwine the digital and "real" worlds, providing a heads-up view ofadditional information related to anything we were currently lookingat. Now, a team from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft areworking together to make something you already have plenty of be moreuseful when it comes to controlling devices. "Skinput" is the novelname for a new physical interaction design which is aimed at using yourskin as an input interface, primarily for mobile devices.

The technology marries two main systems: the "ability to detect theultralow-frequency sound produced by tapping the skin with a finger,and the microchip-sized "pico" projectors now found in somecellphones." The whole solution would project an image of a keyboard oricons onto one's arm, and then any press on the skin would react towhatever icon was present where the finger touched. An acousticdetector (integrated into an armband) is also a vital part of making itall work, but it's still very early on in the development process.Currently, the system is still a prototype, but we could definitely seethis growing to become the next great cellphone or iPod remote, ormaybe even the television remote that you don't have to grab. But wewould hope the designers could force inputs to be recognized by onlyyour fingers; wouldn't want your kids jumping all over you in a fightto change the channel, would you?
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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 5 2010 12:37 PM

This is interesting more in the holographic display and interaction category to me. This also seems to be an adaptation of a concept device we saw in one of the conference links in the recent past. That would be the virtual projection keyboard, which also used the armband concept as well.

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would this work the same way on a table or somehting similar? :D i love the concept its pretty interesting!

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This reminds me of another "handheld" (pun intended) input device, the Peregrine. ( ) Basically a glove that acts as a keyboard, with the input varying on the position of your fingers and which contact pads you touch together.

Come to think of it, it would be awesome if HH reviewed the Peregrine... (hope I haven't gone TOO far off-topic with this post).

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