Microsoft Skinput Turns Users Into Touchscreens

Microsoft Skinput TouchscreenThe future of technology has always been driven by two simple fundamentals: make it faster, and make it smaller. If Chris Harrison and Microsoft’s newest project, Skinput, takes off, it may just take care of the smaller part for good.

The idea is to do away with physical keyboards altogether and replace them with the user’s own body. A projection system will display the keypad on your arm, then sensors would read the input based on which finger you used, and where it struck. To answer an incoming phone call, you could snap your fingers and a Bluetooth earpiece could take the call. To open a folder, you could touch your pinky to your thumb. A series of sign-language-like controls would be customizable, allowing the user to operate a computerized device without a physical unit.

For the more complex operations that require some form of input, a pico camera would project the menus, folder and keyboards onto the users skin. You could type an e-mail on your forearm, or dial a number on the palm of your hand.

“A technology that appropriates the human body for acoustic transmission, allowing the skin to be used as an input surface. In particular, we resolve the location of finger taps on the arm and hand by analyzing mechanical vibrations that propagate through the body,” the Skinput project website states, “We collect these signals using a novel array of sensors worn as an armband. This approach provides an always available, naturally portable, and on-body finger input system.”

The prototype is an armband that users wear. It  features an elbow brace with sensors that can register the movement caused by each finger, and react to the movements.  It then identifies the acoustic resonance of each movement and stores it. A camera then projects the more complex menus onto the other forearm, and the user taps on the display, which vibrates to the sensors to accept the command. The system takes a few moments to distinguish the sound, and vibrations of the individual user, and then it is ready to go.

Harrison, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University and a former Microsoft research intern, has been collaborating with Microsoft to produce a working prototype. Early results show a 95 percent accuracy rate using five buttons, but the goal is to allow the use of a full keyboard. Promising results for a project just eight months old, but the research team believes that a commercially viable model could be anywhere from two to seven years away.

Without a need for a view screen, mobile devices would be free to shrink down further than has ever been considered pragmatically possible. An iPhone- inarguably a top-of-the-line piece of technology – could suddenly be too bulky, while a unit the size of a matchbook could wirelessly sit in the users pocket and work with the skinput system.

Beyond just applications for mobile devices, the skinput system proves the viability of the human body as a sensor. A decade or so from now, users might snap their fingers to unlock the door to their house, or rub their hands together to turn on the TV. The technology is still in the early days, but the possibilities are remarkable.


Midrange Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card may be 20 percent faster than GTX 1060

In the freshest development in graphics card rumors, alleged benchmarks are showing that the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card could be as much as 20 percent faster when compared to the older GTX 1060. 
Home Theater

How to wall mount a TV: Tips and tricks to cut down on frustration

This how-to guide includes a video on how to wall mount a TV, along with other tips and tricks about the process. Step by step, we'll take you through what you have to do to successfully get your TV on your wall.

Heal your wrist aches and pains with one of these top ergonomic mice

If you have a growing ache in your wrist, it might be worth considering ergonomic mice alternatives. But which is the best ergonomic mouse for you? One of these could be the ticket to the right purchase for you.

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.

Work and play anywhere with these portable, large-screen monitors

Via a recent and successful Kickstarter campaign by Unick, a new line of portable, large-screen monitors has been announced. The Gemini Taihe line of monitors offers two models: the Gemini FHD and the Gemini UHD.

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.