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The future of human-computer interaction

Jon Brodkin | Sept. 6, 2010
Imagine the ability to create an iPad on any wall or surface you come across, even on a piece of paper, or the chance to control computers and other physical machines with your brain waves.

Le showed a demonstration video with a man controlling a wheelchair with the headset, but the wheelchair moved only slowly and haltingly in response to the man's thoughts. She said Emotiv's technology can be used to control characters in virtual worlds and games, and change a room's lighting and sound based on one's emotional state.

There's still a ways to go before SixthSense hits the market, Mistry noted, saying there are still "a lot of technical challenges." Mistry created several gestural interface technologies leading up to the creation of SixthSense, including an ultrasonic pen that lets you make designs on a computer screen, and an infrared camera attached to a laptop that tracks your hand motions, allowing you to use your hand as if it were controlling a mouse even if no mouse is there.

The SixthSense prototype costs about $350 to build, and Mistry says future ones will make greater use of the infrared camera and won't require users to wear tabs on their fingers.

Another presenter at VMworld was Natan Linder, an Intel fellow at the MIT Media Lab who developed LuminAR, a prototype system that fits into standard light bulb sockets and projects the Internet onto any surface. Linder's system achieves a similar effect as SixthSense, but he said it wouldn't render existing form factors obsolete. Theoretically, LuminAR could connect various devices and objects like iPads, laptops and books.

"The promise of this is having the Internet everywhere you want to," Linder said.


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