Skinput uses the Body as an Input Surface

When considering an input device for a mobile phone or other portable device, your own skin was probably not on the list. Skinput uses exactly that to create a unique input surface that allows you to interact with electronic devices.

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). 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. For example, we can readily flick each of our fingers, touch the tip of our nose, and clap our hands together without visual assistance. Few external input devices can claim this accurate, eyes-free input characteristic and provide such a large interaction area.

I have to admit that I was a bit on the cautious side when thinking about how a system like this could possibly work, but after watching the videos below I have to admit I am very impressed with what was achieved.

The system uses sensors that detect movement in your skin when tapped. This acoustic wave moves differently when the skin is tapped in different locations and when analysed by a computer, different wave patterns can be seen. These different wave patterns can be used in a computer to complete different tasks. To pick up the different signals a bio-acoustic sensing array (pictured left and below) was created that straps to the upper arm. This device is connected up to a computer where the signals are monitored. The custom built software is capable of listening to the different acoustic variations and controls can be assigned to each different sound allowing the computer to be controlled.

The system is quite amazing and certainly shows what can be achieved with a bit of thought. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Several other videos can be found on Chris Harrisons Skinput page that provides a number of downloadable videos with more demonstrations of what Skinput is capable of.

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