Monday, October 26, 2009

Guitar Hero without a guitar

This year, I'm helping the User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) conference put their proceedings videos online so that more people can access them. So far, I've gotten most of the videos from this year uploaded to the conference YouTube account. If you've closely followed the tech media coverage, you might recognize projects like the pressure sensitive keyboard and Mouse 2.0.

However, one of my favorite projects this year was a muscle sensing system that (among other things) allows you to play Guitar Hero without a guitar. It directly senses the electrical signals in your arms and maps those to the appropriate button presses. This was done by Scott Saponas, a Phd student at the University of Washington exploring a variety of biometric sensing techniques for input.

I also really like this project which combines a large touch table with other physical input devices such as multiple mice and keyboards all working together nicely. This prototype was done by Bjoern Hartman who has recently joined UC Berkeley's faculty.

I like systems that combine many modes of input so that you can dynamically choose the right device for the job and can gracefully scale to multiple people simultaneously. We are pretty far past having a 1:1 ratio between between people and computers. Yet, most systems today are still designed with 1 device and 1 user in mind.