Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UD researchers develop revolutionary computer interface technology

08.10.2002


University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.




“This is not just a little step in improving the mouse, this is the first step in a new way of communicating with the computer through gestures and the movements of your hands. This is, after all, one of the ways humans interact.” John Elias, UD professor of electrical and computer engineering, said.

Elias and Wayne Westerman, UD visiting assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been working on the new interface for about five years and are now marketing their iGesture product through a company called FingerWorks.


The project started as a doctoral thesis by Westerman, who was then a UD graduate student working with Elias.

The FingerWorks name fits because the technology uses a touch pad and a range of finger motions to communicate commands and keys to the computer. To open a file, you rotate your hand as if opening a jar; to zoom or de-zoom, you expand or contract your hand.

Elias said the communication power of their system is “thousands of times greater” than that of a mouse, which uses just a single moving point as the main input. Using this new technology, two human hands provide 10 points of contact, with a wide range of motion for each, thus providing thousands of different patterns, each of which can mean something different to the computer.

While much about the computer has changed over the last three decades–greater power, faster speeds, more memory–what has not changed is the user interface.

“For what it was invented for, the mouse does a good job,” Elias said. “People accept the mouse and the mechanical keyboard because that’s the way it is. But there are limitations in terms of information flow. There is so much power in the computer, and so much power in the human, but the present situation results in a communications bottleneck between the two.”

Elias and Westerman have a better idea. “I believe we are on the verge of changing the way people interact with computers,” Elias said. “Imagine trying to communicate with another human being using just a mouse and a keyboard. It works, but it is slow and tedious.”

Elias said he could envision in the next 10 years “a very complex gestural language between man and machine.”

The system is a multi-touch, zero force technology, Elias said, meaning the gestures and movements use all the fingers in a light and subtle manner.

Because of that, the system has a second major advantage over the mouse and mechanical keyboard because it can greatly reduce stress injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome attributed to traditional computer work.

The company markets both stand-alone touch pads and touch pads built into nonmechanical keyboards. In the keyboards, the keys overlap the touch pad so the operator does not have to move his hands when switching between typing and using the mouse. Rather, everything can be done in a smoother flow of hand motions.

Elias explained the touch pad acts like a video camera, recording the objects touching its surface. An embedded microprocessor then applies an algorithmic process to convert those touches into commands understood by the computer.

“To observers watching somebody use multi-touch, it looks a little like magic,” Elias said, illustrating his point on a computer in Evans Hall. “People see lots of things happening on the computer screen but very little hand motion is observed.”

He said the system has been designed so the gestures used make sense for the operation being performed. For instance, you cut text with a pinch and paste it with a flick.

Eventually, he said, the computer password could be a gesture known only to the user.

Elias said people often think that speech recognition systems will become the ultimate user interface. “Voice commands are good for many things but terrible for other things,” Elias said, adding he believes there are inherent problems with a speech-only interface.

“If you want to test this claim, you can do so with a perfect speech recognition system–another human being,” Elias said. “Put somebody in front of your computer and try to do your work by issuing voice commands to him. You’ll quickly find that many common tasks are difficult to do using speech, even though your ‘computer interface’ understands you perfectly.”

Using hand and finger motion to input commands is, for many tasks, much more effective than trying to explain what you want to do in words, he said.

The system is being used at several work stations in Evans Hall and the reaction is largely favorable. It is something of a challenge for some workers, Elias said, because it is like learning a new language.

Susan Foster, UD vice president of information technologies, said she is impressed with the interface and plans to adopt it for use at several computer sites around campus.

“The device is the result of new thinking about the ‘bandwidth’ that constrains the physical interaction between operator and computer,” Foster said. “It capitalizes on human gestures, which are easy to understand and execute. Once learned, like other motor skills, they are readily retained. The assistive qualities of the device also make it quite useful for those with limitations on upper extremity use.”

The plug-and-play device, which requires no special software, should be of particular interest to programmers, graphic designers and editors, Foster said, and she is recommending they consider making use of a new technology that was “born and bred at UD and under continuing development here.”

Neil Thomas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fingerworks.com

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Stable magnetic bit of three atoms
21.09.2017 | Sonderforschungsbereich 668

nachricht Drones can almost see in the dark
20.09.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>