Skin will Soon Become your Gadget Control Pad

By Dipankar Das, Gaea News Network
Saturday, March 27, 2010

gadget UK researchers are working out  a technology so that you will be able to control phones and music players using tap touches.The system with a projector can use the skin as a surface to display menu choices, a number pad or a screen. You need 20 minutes training to learn the system called skinput.

Chris Harrison, Skinput’s creator commented that he invented the skin based system to overcome the problem of controlling gadget. Since, gadget can not be made much smaller, Mr Harrison and his fellow colleagues use sensors on the arm to listen for input. A tap on the skin by the finger sends useful sound signals throughout the arm, he said. Some waves travel along the skin surface and others goes through the body. Even better, he said, the function of the arm makes it straightforward to work out where the skin was touched.

When sound waves travel through soft tissue and joints, the differences in bone density, arm mass and the “filtering” makes different locations on the arm separate. Software in combination with the sensors can be programmed to determine which sound means which location. Different functions like start, stop, louder, softer, can be related to different locations. The system can even be used to catch very delicate movements such as a pinch or muscle twitch.

“The wonderful thing about the human body is that we are familiar with it,” said Mr Harrison. “Proprioception means that even if I spin you around in circles and tell you to touch your fingertips behind your back, you’ll be able to do it. That gives people a lot more accuracy then we have ever had with a mouse”

The early demonstration of the system shows that the sensor/software system can figure out a five-location system with 95% accuracy if the system is programmed in an intelligent way. However, if you use 10 or more locations, accuracy may drop. As per Mr Harrison, the device can be used in three ways. The sensors can be tied with Bluetooth to control a gadget, like a mobile phone, in your pocket. Also, it can be used to control a music player that is strapped in the upper arm. Additionally, the sensors will be able to work with a pico-projector that uses the forearm or hand for display purpose. Mr Harrison did not mention any date when the device can be used in real life from the lab.

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