Is Your Touchscreen Too Small? No Problem, Just Use Your Arm
March 7, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Love them or hate them, touchscreens are here to stay. And as soon as you become an iPhone virtuoso, you lament the small and inefficient screens. But with a new technology called Skinput, we may one day just simply expand our touchscreeens onto our bodies, beaming a scrolling, interactive menu right on our arms or hands. The future is here, grabbed right from the pages of a science fiction novel, and it’s brought to us by Microsoft and a third year Ph.D. student from Carnegie Mellon.
The Skinput technology was first developed by Chris Harrison, studying at Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. And Harrison then teamed up with two young Microsoft engineers to create proof-of-concept applications for the technology.
The Skinput technology works by analyzing and collecting the mechanical vibrations of our own bodies. And an armband sensor collects the signals from the vibrations, which provides a constantly available “on-body finger input system.” A pico projector attached to the armband then beams the touchscreen graphics onto our arms or hand.
Carnegie Mellon explains the technology as a natural extension of using our bodies as one giant touchscreen interface:
“Say goodbye to smeared screens and cracked glass, Chris Harrison has done it again. The prolific computer scientist’s latest creation, Skinput, turns the human body into a giant touchscreen. Developed as a response to the increasingly uncomfortable miniaturization of modern keypads, the third year Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) produced Skinput with Microsoft researchers Dan Morris and Desney Tan. Harrison had already developed a way to turn ordinary tabletops into finger input surfaces, but says it wasn’t enough.”We strap iPods and other devices onto our arms. Why not utilize all the external surface…”
After walking around wearing the Skinput sensor armband for many hours, Harrison says that using a human body as a computer interface is highly accurate. “Accuracy is already good, in the high 90s percent accuracy for finger input,” said Harrison.
And the current crude and bulky sensor armband, will in time be perfected to the size of a wristwatch. “The arm band is a crude prototype,” Harrison said. “The next generation could be made considerably smaller – likely easily fitting into a wristwatch.”
Watch the demonstration video: