Skinput Uses Your Skin as a User Interface
Technology has improved to the point that MP3 players can easily fit in the palm of your hand - and companies are still pushing for even smaller sizes as technology allows.
The problem is getting a decent user interface to work on a device as small as a stick of gum - the third-gen Apple iPod Shuffle had to resort to voice-overs and buttons attached to the earbuds to make up for its lack of screen and miniscule size. It was not a very optimal solution for many, but it did work fairly well. Right?
There will soon be an alternative to this solution, however. Thanks to research done by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon, you may soon be able to use your very skin as a control interface for most any device.
Indeed, the aptly named Skinput can turn any part of your body into a touchable interface, and it can even project a graphical user interface onto a part of your body for increased control. Needless to say, it looks rather impressive.
Skinput works by continuously “listening” for bio-acoustic signals that occur when fingers tap your skin. The differences in bone densities and filtering effects from various tissues and joints throughout your body result in unique signals, and, by using a specialized array of sensors (currently configured as a headband or wristband), Skinput measures these signals and classifies them. One can then control their media players, phones and other personal devices this way, provided that they support Bluetooth.
With a small projector attached, Skinput can also apparently handle graphical user interfaces- such as scrolling lists or numerical keypads, opening up even more ways to interact with your device without taking it out of your pocket.
Of course, Skinput is still under development and won't be out and about as a consumer product (if at all) for a while. The sensor arrangement is a little unwieldy and I’m sure the overall accuracy isn’t completely spot-on yet. It’s still an interesting project, though, and definitely something to look out for in the future. (Via Chris Harrison)