Imagine a world where your computer is not only at your fingertips, but directly controlled and interfaced on them. As technology got smaller, unfortunately screen size also suffered, but a new projection technology recently developed hopes to turn the viewing area on computers and personal devices such as cell phones into the user’s own glowing skin. The technology was offered as a solution to problems many computer and personal device users have of small screens on smaller devices.
The world of technology is bringing out new breakthroughs that hold the potential to make life both easier in some ways and more inconvenient in others. Social networking sites have made communication far easier, yet at the same time more difficult in several ways, MP3 players have made the average walk down the street less connected with other people, yet opened another world within, and the internet has harbored in a new age of information with informative sites that serve to inform readers honestly and without compromise from multi-million dollar industries at great cost to those industries. But as technology changes, the medium itself must change as well. And what better part of consistency is there than the user the technology hopes to serve?
It’s called “skinput.” One example sees a tiny LED projector on the wrist pouring out a detailed phone pad onto the hand of a user so they can use their other hand to dial a phone. As each “button” on the display is pressed, a wave is sent up the hand in reaction, and an advanced sensor detects the waves and sends a signal to the tiny processor on the Skinput computer where it is measured and quickly estimated into an exact point of contact on the skin. It’s a principle similar to how dolphins use sonar to navigate sea floors and keep an eye out for potential predators as well as food. As the sensors got more advanced, as they were being developed, it became more accurate and therefore more applicable. Essentially a “skinput” device would be exactly like any other touch screen device, except rather than touching a screen, you would be touching your own hand glowing from the projector mounted on your wrist.
As gadgets get smaller, so too must the screens used on them. Fortunately, the problem of a screen too small to see, as well as buttons and interface too small for those with larger hands to use is remedied as the screens will be directly proportional always to the size of the user’s hand. In addition, it will be as easy to look at as it is to hold your own hand up to your face. Since the device doesn’t need to be held to use, it will be far less likely to be forgotten, lost, or dropped.
Will skinput be able to have military applications as well? Researcher Chris Harrison from Carnegie Mellon institute said the system worked equally well whether running, walking, or standing still. Currently there are limited points of detection for it, however, which will have to be worked out before we find ourselves staring into our empty hands trying to make a phone call.