If you thought that you looked cool going through your day with white headphone wires framing your face, one hand holding your movie-playing tablet and the other hand feverishly texting on your smartphone … think again.
A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has made great strides towards eliminating those clunky contraptions that you now call computer interfaces. They think that your own body would make a much better medium. Building on recent advances like the Skinput and Kinect technologies, the Carnegie Mellon team has developed the Armura system, an interactive on-body input/output platform.
Imagine how, using bio-acoustic or electrical sensing, each of your knuckles would become an input key that you can tap with another finger while search results and soft key menus are beamed by pico-projectors onto the surface of your palm. Other surfaces on your body can also be used, such as the back of your hand, your forearm, your arm and your … well, they stopped there for the time being.
Armura can also detect and act on your gestures or positions. For example, you can point your hand at a flat object and turn it – à la Star Trek – into an effective display screen. You can also turn your body and use your arm to get directions to your nearby surroundings – extremely useful if you’re trying to locate a store in the mall. Want to read a book? Simply put your hands in front of your face and the pages will be clearly displayed on your palms. Just clap your hands to turn the pages.
Armura is still a prototype. It does not include on-body hardware yet, and it works only in a lab where researchers use a special projector and an infrared camera that records sixty 480×640 images per second.
However, it is clear where the technology is going. The next time you see someone bizarrely scratching their hands and making incoherent gestures, do not assume that they are the victims of a terrible itch. They may just be computing … and likely pumping even more data onto your network.
What possibilities do you see for this technology? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
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