Grathio Labs – This is a project that Steve Hoefer calls “Tacit”. Says Steve: No, I didn’t bother making an awkward backronym for it, it just seemed like an appropriate name that’s a lot shorter (though less descriptive) than “Hand-Mounted Haptic Feedback Sonar Obstacle Avoidance Asstance Device”. It measures the distance to things and translates that into pressure on the wrist.
It’s wrist mounted and senses objects from about 1 inch (2 cm) to 10 feet (3.5m). It has generally fast response time (fractions of a second) to quickly navigate complex environments. It’s designed to help a vision impaired person to navigate complex environments. Mounted to the back of the hand, the force feedback means it doesn’t interfere with other assistance devices that mount elsewhere and use audio feedback cues. The learning curve is measured in seconds, everyone who has worn it has figured it out immediately.
The circuit and diagrams are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Feel free to use, modify and distribute as long as you attribute it to Steve Hoefer.
Mashable Tech - Until recently, the idea of holding a conversation with a computer seemed pure science fiction. If you asked a computer to “open the pod bay doors”—well, that was only in movies. [...]
“We’re at a transition point where voice and natural-language understanding are suddenly at the forefront,” says Vlad Sejnoha, chief technology officer of Nuance Communications, a company based in Burlington, Massachusetts, that dominates the market for speech recognition with its Dragon software and other products. “I think speech recognition is really going to upend the current [computer] interface.”
Progress has come about thanks in part to steady progress in the technologies needed to help machines understand human speech, including machine learning and statistical data-mining techniques. Sophisticated voice technology is already commonplace in call centers, where it lets users navigate through menus and helps identify irate customers who should be handed off to a real customer service rep. [...]
Jim Glass, a senior research scientist at MIT who has been working on speech interfaces since the 1980s, says today’s smart phones pack as much processing power as the laboratory machines he worked with in the ’90s. Smart phones also have high-bandwidth data connections to the cloud, where servers can do the heavy lifting involved with both voice recognition and understanding spoken queries. “The combination of more data and more computing power means you can do things today that you just couldn’t do before,” says Glass. “You can use more sophisticated statistical models.” [...]
Perhaps people will even speak to computers they wear, like the photo-snapping eyeglasses in development at Google. Sources at Nuance say they are actively planning how speech technology would have to be architected to run on wearable computers.
input, research, sports
CNET - A group of researchers says shoes may be the next thing in the busy field of wearable computers and gesture interfaces.
Computer scientists from the Telekom Innovation Laboratories, the University of Munich, and the University of Toronto this week published a paper on ShoeSense, a wearable computing system for a smartphone.
[...] Developing alternative inputs for smartphones makes sense when a person is moving or engaged in other tasks, such as driving, or when it’s inappropriate to pull out a smartphone, such as during a family dinner, the ShoeSense developers said in a paper.
Its developers envision a sensor being placed in a shoe that is able to understand customizable hand and arm gestures. In a video, a user moves his finger along his forearm to turn up the volume on a music player in his pocket, pinches to select the next track, and then pinches with three fingers to send an “I will be late” e-mail to his wife.
Having a sensor device in a shoe has advantages over glasses in that it allows for eyes-free interaction, and it doesn’t constrain body motions. ShoeSense’s designers also think that it can be more socially acceptable to operate a smartphone through arm and hand gestures than via glasses. Potentially, the sensor could be powered by a walking motion.
new electronics - We are surrounded by electronic machines, many of which have advanced at an astonishing rate. But, arguably, the way we interact with these machines has lagged far behind. For example, decades after speech recognition was invented, how many people do you hear talking to their pcs? The humble keyboard and mouse remain the dominant interface.
Smartphones and tablet computers already use the touchscreen interface to great effect and if some of the many research projects underway succeed, touch technology – or haptics – will transform the way we use electronic devices.
One promising example of haptics is OmniTouch, a wearable projection system developed by Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the US. It enables users to turn pads of paper, walls or even their own hands, arms and legs into graphical, interactive surfaces.
US company Novint Technologies is a leader in haptic interfaces for gaming, in the form of its Falcon and XIO products. Users hold onto the Falcon’s grip and as it moves, the computer tracks a 3d cursor. When the cursor touches a virtual object, the computer registers contact with that object and updates currents to motors in the device to create an appropriate force to the device’s handle, which the user feels.
Chris Harrison, of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute says, “The real world is full of rich haptic feedback: we push a door, grab a toothbrush, grasp a bottle. So far computing has lacked much touch input, so we’re mostly clicking buttons and poking touchscreens. But there is a huge opportunity for providing haptic feedback to the user, just as we get from real world actions.”
display, gadget, input, research
Carnegie Mellon University - OmniTouch, a wearable projection system developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Research, enables users to turn pads of paper, walls or even their own hands, arms and legs into graphical, interactive surfaces.
In other words, there will be no need to find that pen you keep misplacing — or even to dig your smartphone out of your pocket to record a note.
The system employs a depth-sensing camera, similar to the Microsoft Kinect, to track the user’s fingers on everyday surfaces.
This allows users to control interactive applications by tapping or dragging their fingers, much as they would with touchscreens found on smartphones or tablet computers.
The projector can superimpose keyboards, keypads and other controls onto any surface, automatically adjusting for the surface’s shape and orientation to minimize distortion of the projected images.
health, input, research
CNET – Engineers at the University of Illinois have unveiled novel, skin-mounted electronics whose circuitry bends, wrinkles, and even stretches with skin. The device platform includes electronic components, medical diagnostics, communications, and human-machine interfacing on a patch so thin and durable it can be mounted to skin much like a temporary tattoo.
What’s more, the team was able to demonstrate its invention across a wide range of components, including LEDs, transistors, wireless antennas, sensors, and conductive coils and solar cells for power. ”We threw everything in our bag of tricks onto that platform, and then added a few other new ideas on top of those to show that we could make it work,” said engineering professor John A. Rogers in a news release. The research is described in detail in the online journal, Science.
The range of medical applications includes EEG and EMG sensors to track nerves and muscles–something that tends to be limited to a lab given the number of electrodes and wires involved.
And the patch itself, mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic before being laminated to skin with water, can be applied not only like a temporary tattoo, but even on top of a temporary tattoo to help conceal it.
Fast Company’s Design
– A combination of a sensor-infused wristband and a smartphone app will provide nudges for healthier living, based on your behavior.
[...] On stage at TED Global, Jawbone announced the grand project they’ve been quietly working on for years: A wearable band called Up, which is infused with sensors and smartphone connected, allowing you to track your eating, sleeping, and activity patterns.
The interest grew when people realized how large this market is.
“The CDC says that for the first time in history, lifestyle diseases such as diabetes are killing more people than communicable diseases,” Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s VP of product management, tells Co.Design. “We’re trying to solve that problem.” The Up’s sensors collect data about how much you’ve been sleeping and how much you’ve been moving. That data is then fed into a smartphone app, which also takes in information about your meals. (You enter meal data manually, in part by taking pictures of what you’ve eaten.) Based on all that information, the smartphone program provides “nudges” meant to help you live healthier, day by day. For example, if you haven’t slept much, when you wake up the app might suggest a high-protein breakfast and an extra glass of water.
health, input, research
MIT Technology Review - Do you know how much REM sleep you got last night? New types of devices that monitor activity, sleep, diet, and even mood could make us healthier and more productive.
On a quiet Wednesday night in April, an unusual group has assembled in a garage turned hacker studio nestled in a student-dominated neighborhood outside Boston. Those gathered here—mostly in their 20s or 30s and mostly male—are united by a deep interest in themselves. They have come to share the results of their latest self-experiments: monthlong tests of the Zeo, a consumer device designed to analyze sleep.
The group is part of a rapidly growing movement of fitness buffs, techno-geeks, and patients with chronic conditions who obsessively monitor various personal metrics. At the center of the movement is a loosely organized group known as the Quantified Self, whose members are driven by the idea that collecting detailed data can help them make better choices about their health and behavior. In meetings held all over the world, self-trackers discuss how they use a combination of traditional spreadsheets, an expanding selection of smart-phone apps, and various consumer and custom-built devices to monitor patterns of food intake, sleep, fatigue, mood, and heart rate. [...]
ZDNet – ZionEyez announces “Eyez”, eyeglasses equipped with a built-in 720p HD camera designed to stream first-person video to your favorite social site. The recorded data can also be stored on the 8GB of flash memory within the Eyez™ glasses, transferred via Bluetooth or Micro USB to a computer, or wirelessly transferred to most iPhone or Android devices.
Rich Harris at ZDNet is not impressed — “I’m usually a pretty open-minded person. In my line of work, innovation and crazy ideas are a staple. It’s part of the reason I enjoy what I do. However, I have to draw the line somewhere.” [...]
“Their press release reads as if first-person-video-on-a-website-from-your-everyday-Joe Q. Public-for- everyone-to-see‘ is a brand new idea. When you go to their website, it’s flash-heavy, enshrouded in dramatic music and provides a ‘Place Order’ link that spawns a window containing placeholder copy from lipsum.org. Sigh.
All I see so far is less revolution and more known technology with the words ’social media’ attached it. ZionEyez, the “social media company” (it says that on their website) should consider chilling out on the buzz words and concentrate more on delivering their own version of putting personal video on the internet.
Sorry guys, a product that does what most of us are already doing isn’t innovation. Also, a little website QA goes a long way.”
display, gadget, input
Wearable Computing — Christian over at Tailor Made Toys has created a way-cool Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Augmented Reality Headset. The headset is composed of Eye-Trek goggles with the addition of a USB laptop webcam. On his blog, Christian says:
“First thing I should probably say here is that I built this without even thinking what its function would be. I just thought it would be cool to add a cam to the front of my Eye-Trek goggles. As it turned out these where ideal for use with augmented reality applications. I am also working on putting them to use for other software. Such as gps overlays and night vision (like being the terminator, but more scrawny).” [...] “Other idea is to have it on all day and log on to chat roulette, give them that “being john malcovich” feeling.”