Cambridge Consultants has unveiled the next phase in the development of its Suma sensor technology, which transforms user touch on its surface into an individual action on a computer or gaming device. The wireless Suma mouse prototype opens up a multitude of three dimensional navigation possibilities by taking every squeeze, stroke or swipe of a user's touch and translating it into an onscreen reaction such as a pan, tilt or zoom.
The "Suma sensor system translates the three dimensional deformation of a squeezed object into a software-readable form." This means that a controller incorporating the technology can capture input from wherever the user's hand touches the "skin" and transform this into usable software commands, without the need for cumbersome gloves or complicated arrays of wired sensors.
Back in November 2009 when the company revealed the technology's first incarnation, head of Consumer Product Development for Cambridge Consultants Duncan Smith said: "Our hands are extraordinary instruments for control and communication. One of our earliest instincts as babies is to grip and grasp, and about a quarter of the motor cortex of the human brain is devoted to the muscles of the hand. Yet current input devices for computers and games do not fully exploit these capabilities."
Spurred on by the favorable reception given when its Suma skin technology was first shown off at this year's CES, Cambridge Consultants has further refined the 3D interactive touch sensitive peripheral technology to produce the futuristic Suma mouse prototype. The company states that the new Suma platform is able to take "any shape, from mouse to joystick, integrating an analogue deformation sensor within the device" and can then be fine tuned to each application.
In the Suma mouse prototype, a user is offered an intuitive and natural way to interact with 3D computer environments like Google Street View. In the following demonstration video, the device is seen being squeezed, stroked and spun around to pan, tilt and zoom within a three dimensional screenscape.
"The second concept of Suma is equally applicable to today’s technology as it is tomorrow’s 3D displays. About one quarter of the motor cortex of your brain is dedicated to the muscles in your hands. No other technology captures the power of this the way Suma does," says Smith.
Numerous application possibilities
In its current incarnation, the technology could happily find a home in the eager hands of gamers, 3D modelers and net-heads alike, but the real excitement lies in the many future peripheral possibilities. The familiar computer mouse for instance, where clickable buttons and scroll wheels have become a way of life for most of us, could become a thing of the past as the whole surface of an I/O device is opened up to the processing of tactile input.
Cambridge Consultants plans to publicly demonstrate the new version of its Suma platform for the first time at the forthcoming Front End of Innovation 2010 conference in Boston, which starts on May 3.