User Interface Gets Under Your Skin

We’ve talked about all sorts of alternative user interface technology in this space, everything from Minority Report-style touchscreen interfaces to computers that can be controlled with brain waves. Now Autodesk Research is investigating the utility of implantable user interfaces that would reside under the surface of the human skin.

The Toronto-based research group presented their findings at the CHI 2012 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems earlier this month. The research was conducted in collaboration with a PhD student from Hasso Plattner Institute, University of Potsdam, Germany, and an anatomy professor at the University of Toronto.

The scientists tested around a dozen interface implants using a cadaver arm and, later, synthetic skin attached to a live subject’s arm. Input devices included microphones, buttons, pressure sensors, tap sensors, brightness sensors, and capacitive sensors. The group also tested how well Bluetooth communication and inductive charging would work through the skin. They even investigated the (somewhat icky) idea of having “exposed components” that protruded through the skin like a light or a trackball. In an interview with Txchnologist, researcher Tovi Grossman said that these types of implantable interfaces could be used in conjunction with augmented reality eyewear, to play games, to remotely control other devices,  or to control medical implants.

You can download the research paper here.

Source: Autodesk Research

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