Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carnegie Mellon student uses skin as input for mobile devices

07.04.2010
A combination of simple bio-acoustic sensors and some sophisticated machine learning makes it possible for people to use their fingers or forearms — potentially, any part of their bodies — as touchpads to control smart phones or other mobile devices.

The technology, called Skinput, was developed by Chris Harrison, a third-year Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), along with Desney Tan and Dan Morris of Microsoft Research. Harrison will describe the technology in a paper to be presented on Monday, April 12, at CHI 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery's annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta, Ga.

Skinput, www.chrisharrison.net/projects/skinput/, could help people take better advantage of the tremendous computing power now available in compact devices that can be easily worn or carried. The diminutive size that makes smart phones, MP3 players and other devices so portable, however, also severely limits the size and utility of the keypads, touchscreens and jog wheels typically used to control them.

"With Skinput, we can use our own skin — the body's largest organ — as an input device," Harrison said "It's kind of crazy to think we could summon interfaces onto our bodies, but it turns out to make a lot of sense. Our skin is always with us, and makes the ultimate interactive touch surface"

In a prototype developed while Harrison was an intern at Microsoft Research last summer, acoustic sensors are attached to the upper arm. These sensors capture sound generated by such actions as flicking or tapping fingers together, or tapping the forearm. This sound is not transmitted through the air, but by transverse waves through the skin and by longitudinal, or compressive, waves through the bones.

Harrison and his colleagues found that the tap of each fingertip, a tap to one of five locations on the arm, or a tap to one of 10 locations on the forearm produces a unique acoustic signature that machine learning programs could learn to identify. These computer programs, which improve with experience, were able to determine the signature of each type of tap by analyzing 186 different features of the acoustic signals, including frequencies and amplitude.

In a trial involving 20 subjects, the system was able to classify the inputs with 88 percent accuracy overall. Accuracy depended in part on proximity of the sensors to the input; forearm taps could be identified with 96 percent accuracy when sensors were attached below the elbow, 88 percent accuracy when the sensors were above the elbow. Finger flicks could be identified with 97 percent accuracy.

"There's nothing super sophisticated about the sensor itself," Harrison said, "but it does require some unusual processing. It's sort of like the computer mouse — the device mechanics themselves aren't revolutionary, but are used in a revolutionary way." The sensor is an array of highly tuned vibration sensors — cantilevered piezo films.

The prototype armband includes both the sensor array and a small projector that can superimpose colored buttons onto the wearer's forearm, which can be used to navigate through menus of commands. Additionally, a keypad can be projected on the palm of the hand. Simple devices, such as MP3 players, might be controlled simply by tapping fingertips, without need of superimposed buttons; in fact, Skinput can take advantage of proprioception — a person's sense of body configuration — for eyes-free interaction.

Though the prototype is of substantial size and designed to fit the upper arm, the sensor array could easily be miniaturized so that it could be worn much like a wristwatch, Harrison said.

Testing indicates the accuracy of Skinput is reduced in heavier, fleshier people and that age and sex might also affect accuracy. Running or jogging also can generate noise and degrade the signals, the researchers report, but the amount of testing was limited and accuracy likely would improve as the machine learning programs receive more training under such conditions.

Harrison, who delights in "blurring the lines between technology and magic," is a prodigious inventor. Last year, he launched a company, Invynt LLC, to market a technology he calls "Lean and Zoom," which automatically magnifies the image on a computer monitor as the user leans toward the screen. He also has developed a technique to create a pseudo-3D experience for video conferencing using a single webcam at each conference site. Another project explored how touchscreens can be enhanced with tactile buttons that can change shape as virtual interfaces on the touchscreen change.

Skinput is an extension of an earlier invention by Harrison called Scratch Input, which used acoustic microphones to enable users to control cell phones and other devices by tapping or scratching on tables, walls or other surfaces.

"Chris is a rising star," said Scott Hudson, HCII professor and Harrison's faculty adviser. "Even though he's a comparatively new Ph.D. student, the very innovative nature of his work has garnered a lot of attention both in the HCI research community and beyond."

The HCII is a unit of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, one of the world's leading centers for computer science research and education. Follow the School of Computer Science on Twitter @SCSatCMU.

About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon (www.cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the fine arts. More than 11,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon's main campus in the United States is in Pittsburgh, Pa. It has campuses in California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion fundraising campaign, titled "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements.

Byron Spice | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cs.cmu.edu

Further reports about: HCII MP3 Science TV Silicon Valley Skinput cell phone smart phone tapping finger

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New epidemic management system combats monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria
15.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht Gecko adhesion technology moves closer to industrial uses
13.12.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond Lenses and Space Lasers at Photonics West

15.12.2017 | Trade Fair News

A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars

15.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New epidemic management system combats monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria

15.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>