Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Computer Human Interface

The PossessedHand system uses non-invasive electrical stimulation of muscles in the forear...

It's often during those early stages of learning to play a new instrument that many people give up in despair. Even though you swear that you're hitting the right notes, everything still sounds like an old gramophone recording played at the wrong speed. If only you could let someone take control of your hands to fast forward through the arduous repetition phase before muscle memory kicks in and the piece you're trying to play begins to sound more like it should. That's precisely the kind of potential offered by the PossessedHand project. Electrode-packing armbands placed on a user's forearm send electrical pulses through the muscles to take control of the movement of the hand - with fledgling Koto players testing the system having demonstrated greater accuracy and speedier progress.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a computer system that's able ...

While computer systems are now very capable of recognizing vocal input, they offer minimal interactive feedback. A team of Cambridge University researchers have now developed a system that can not only detect a user's emotional state, but can also make expressive responses of its own. Using a robotic likeness of the godfather of the programmable computer, Charles Babbage, the team has hooked the system up to a driving simulator and created a computerized driving companion and navigator that reacts to the driver in much the same way as a human passenger.  Read More

A dozen subjects with their brains wired up to a computer interface have succeeded in mani...

Using just the power of thought to control onscreen computer activity, subjects in a recent study led by neurosurgery professor Itzhak Fried, M.D., Ph.D have managed to choose to bring one of two merged images into sharp focus while making the other disappear. Not only were only a few brain cells found to be used when selecting one picture over another, but each cell appeared to have its own image preference.  Read More

You, too, could look this cool.

Think you spend too much time online these days? It's only going to get worse as mobile and virtual reality technology gets us connected more often, more inextricably and to the detriment of our 'real world' social lives. Which is why researchers like the guys at Tachi Labs are starting to work on how to break down the benefits of physical human interaction and see how they can be replicated in a virtual world. It's early days yet, so the HaptiHug interface and the rest of the iFeel_IM! Affective Haptics suite are painfully awkward and dorky, but this could be a glimpse into the kinds of technologies that can satisfy some of our needs for physical contact and help keep us sane as more and more of our lives go digital.  Read More

Prefab makes all software open source

Researchers from the University of Washington have managed to add customization and accessibility options to proprietary software without even touching the source code. Rather than alter program code, Prefab looks for the pixels associated with the blocks of code used to paint applications to a screen, grabs hold of them and then alters them according to whatever enhancements the user has chosen to apply. Any user input is then fed back to the original software, still running behind the enhanced interface.  Read More

Imperial student demonstrates how neurotechnology works

Remember when the simple paddle game Pong generated a world-wide buzz of excitement? Those days may just have returned with the announcement that students from Imperial College London have created an interface using off-the-shelf components which tracks eye movement and enables a bespectacled user to play the game hands-free.  Read More

The Eyewriter project is an ongoing collaborative research effort to empower people who ar...

Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities have teamed-up with legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist Tony Quan aka Tempt One to develop a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow graffiti writers and artists with paralysis to draw using only their eyes. Their product, the Eyewriter, recently won the Interactive Award at the celebrated Brit Insurance Design Awards.  Read More

The AlphaGrip: a viable alternative to the QWERTY keyboard or not?

Answers often lie in strange places. I have long hated the QWERTY keyboard. Designed more than 150 years ago to slow human input via the frail mechanicals of the typewriter, it is a dinosaur masquerading as high tech and has become the main input device for billions of computers across the planet, strangling global productivity a little more every day because it is also impeding the progress of the computer from the desk to the couch, the train and the footpath. So when I called into beautiful Tapong to see my mate Kiril's new guesthouse on the beach in rural Thailand, the last thing I expected to find was a viable keyboard replacement.  Read More

The iPoint 3D

For all the advances in computing and display technology over the years it’s a little disappointing that the main way we interact with them is still largely keyboard and mouse based, or for gaming consoles, controller based. The Wii’s motion controller has shown that the traditional ways of interaction serve as a barrier to many people and that new ways of interaction offer up a whole new range of possibilities. We also know that there are people hard at work on delivering whiz-bang new Minority Report style glove-controlled interfaces, but iPoint 3D goes a step further – the system allows people to communicate with a 3D display through simple hand gestures – without touching it and without 3D glasses or a data glove.  Read More

Novint's Falcon 3D controller

We all know the keyboard and mouse are NOT the future of the Computer Human Interface (CHI), and it’s high time we found a replacement capable of generating critical mass. One device with the potential to play a role in the next generation interface is the Novint Falcon. Aptly named because of its predatory view of the mouse, we wrote the Falcon up when it was first announced in 2005, then released in 2007, and this week Dave Weinstein and Noel McKeegan sat down with Tom Anderson, Novint's CEO to discuss the future of the Computer Human Interface.  Read More

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