Can I borrow your arm…I need to make a phone call

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Will Skinput technology Replace Clothing?

Chris Harrison is a  PhD student at a Carnegie Mellon University. Along with Microsoft researchers Dan Morris and Desney Tan he has devised a new technology called Skinput.  “We strap iPods and other devices onto our arms. Why not utilise all the external surface area that is already with us?”  says Harrison.  He adds, “What’s great about skin, unlike tables, is that it travels with us”.

Sounds like something out of a weird sci fi movie however this out-there technology is being taken very seriously by the big brass in various industries, including fashion.

As cell phones and their respective keyboards continue to get smaller  the relationship between specific keys and the average person’s fingertips becomes no longer efficient.

The Microsoft/Carnegie Mellon research project titled ‘Skinput’ shows how our bodies can be turned into a touch screen interface by using sensor/motor trackers to sense the body part being activated.

Basically, this technology turns you into a mobile touch interface. Skinput  is pioneering approach which can listen to the vibrations and sensors  to determine where the user activated the ‘tap’.

It works by monitoring acoustic signals on your arm and translating these gestures and taps into input commands.

Practically speaking , you wear a cuff (a bit  like a blood pressure gauge) on your bicep which picks up your finger tapping on various parts of your arm and hands and interprets them as input signals to activate or inform the device it’s hooked up to.

You can change the the volume on your mp3 player, advance to the next song, answer the phone, or flick through your contacts or emails just by tapping your fingers. There is not much that a mouse can do that your fingers cannot do using this new technology.  In fact it does away with the mouse and replaces it with your arm and hands, turning you into a walking touch interface As one wag puts it  soon it will be a question of ‘are you a (wo)man or a mouse?’