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Skinput Uses Your Body as Input Device

Skinput Uses Your Body as Input Device

Chris Harrison has developed Skinput, a way in which your skin can become a touch screen device or your fingers a keypad. Harrison says that as electronics get smaller and smaller they have become more adaptable to being worn on our bodies, but the monitor and keypad/keyboard still have to be big enough for us to operate the equipment. This can defeat the purpose of small devices but with the clever acoustics and impact sensing software, Harrison and his team can give your skin the same functionality as a keypad.

Whamberry Handheld Keyboard & Mouse

Chris has used tables and walls as touch screens but has experimented using the surface area of our bodies because technology is now small enough to be carried around with us and we can’t always find an appropriate surface.

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Harrison, a 3rd-year PhD student in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, says we have roughly two square meters of external surface area, and most of it is easily accessible by our hands (eg: arms, upper legs, torso). He has used the myriad sounds our body makes when tapped by a finger on different areas of say, an arm or hand or other fingers, and married these sounds to a computer function.  Technically its called “proprioception”.

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Harrison and his team have created its own bio-acoustic sensing array that is worn on the arm meaning that no electronics are attached to the skin. Harrison explains that when a finger taps the body, bone densities, soft tissues, joint proximity, etc, affect the sound this motion makes. The software he has created recognizes these different acoustic patterns and interprets them as function commands.

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Harrison’s research paper, co-authored by Desney Tan and Dan Morris from Microsoft Research, titled *Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface* will appear in Proceedings of the 28th Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia) in April.

Published on 6 March 2010

David Novakhttps://www.gadgetgram.com
For the last 20 years, David Novak has appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV around the world, reviewing the latest in consumer technology. His byline has appeared in Popular Science, PC Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Electronic House Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, Forbes Technology, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Glamour Magazine, T3 Technology Magazine, Stuff Magazine, Maxim Magazine, Wired Magazine, Laptop Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Indiana Business Journal, Better Homes and Garden, CNET, Engadget, InfoWorld, Information Week, Yahoo Technology and Mobile Magazine. He has also made radio appearances on the The Mark Levin Radio Show, The Laura Ingraham Talk Show, Bob & Tom Show, and the Paul Harvey RadioShow. He’s also made TV appearances on The Today Show and The CBS Morning Show. His nationally syndicated newspaper column called the GadgetGUY, appears in over 100 newspapers around the world each week, where Novak enjoys over 3 million in readership. David is also a contributing writer fro Men’s Journal, GQ, Popular Mechanics, T3 Magazine and Electronic House here in the U.S.

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