Skinput: Your Body is the Touchscreen

By March 05, 2010 4 comments

We’re simplifying the ways we interface with technology. Touch computing will hopefully once and for all get rid of the mouse as pointer, but we still have to hold the device in one hand and manipulate the screen with the other.

What if the screen was our body?

That’s a scenario that Carnegie Mellon’s Skinupt offers.

The goal of Skinput is to compensate for the small screen spaces on mobile computing devices.

“In my research I think about clever ways to appropriate surfaces that are already around us, like tables and walls,” said Skinput’s designer, Carnegie Mellon’s Chris Harrison.

Skinput uses bio-acoustic sensing technology that makes the human body the input source.

Parts of the body are acoustically distinct: different parts make different sounds due to size mass, bone density, as well as from filtering effects such as joints and soft tissue. The sounds are read by a device worn around the upper arm. Skinput’s software classifies the impacts, making the body an input device. A pico projector can be attached to the device to project a graphical interface onto the user’s body (see video for some really cool examples, including playing Tetris on your hand).

“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),” Harrison writes on his blog. “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.”

Just watching the demo video is enough to make it obvious how useful this technology could be, and how computing paradigms are in the process of radically changing. Functionalities are improving so fast these days, but until the last few years, the ways we interface with technologies have remained clunky.

Technology like Skinput makes sense for the evolution of computer interfaces. And how can you beat playing Tetris on your hand?

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Amazing technology! Although I can imagine more and more car accidents will trigger these types of innovation once it gets exposed to the public.

Submitted by Home Detectors (not verified) - on March 21, 2010 at 01:21 pm

I really like the Tetris part of the video -- finally, a true hand-held game! (sorry)

Submitted by admin - on March 22, 2010 at 01:07 pm

[...] the name evokes something familiar, it is because Carnegie Mellon’s Chris Harrison also developed Skinput, with which the new project shares a few [...]

Submitted by Minput: Control Mobile Devices Like a Mouse (not verified) - on April 26, 2010 at 05:22 pm

[...] up in this fascinating area, from hoodies that connect to your Facebook page to devices that turn a user’s skin into a [...]

Submitted by Wearable Absence: Intelligent Textiles Make Clothing the Dev (not verified) - on June 07, 2010 at 01:29 pm

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