We all know that mobile music and phone equipment is getting ever dinkier – however there is a stumbling block. The fact that we need to interface with these gismos using our fingers to tap/switch commands and messages means that they have stalled at a certain size and cannot get any smaller.
However, US researchers are in the process of overcoming this hurdle – by using our own bodies. When linked with a projector strapped to the arm, our skin can become the screen on which menu lists, a number/key pad or screen can be projected. Tapping on various parts of the body generates different kinds of vibrations, depending on the muscles, tendons and skeletal shape and density beneath the tapped area. Initial experiments have indicated that it takes about 20 minutes to learn ‘Skinput’, which has a promising prototype accuracy of over 90% when using finger flicks.
“The human body is the ultimate input device,” comments Chris Harrison, one of the project leaders.
When seeing the video of this prototype, I experienced a real sci-fi moment and felt that, particularly with mp3 commands, there is strong potential for this technology.
However, I winced when I saw the bit where they were playing games using the hand as a screen. I’m not a naturally gifted computer game-player – a few rounds of Bejewelled and Tetras is about my limit… But when I’m engrossed, I do tend to give the keys a bit of a pounding. What happens to that complicated set of nerves, muscles and tendons making up the human hand if someone spends extended periods of time jabbing at it? And don’t say that the pain will be a useful indicator. Some of us who are VERY sore losers only notice such details after the game is over…
Maybe, it’s just my cautious nature going into overdrive – but I’ll be thinking twice before stabbing at my precious, irreplaceable hand while playing a quick game on the move.