A watch that works in multiple dimensions, a smart ring that provides calendar alerts and, and a new thumb-tip recognition software are some of the top technology that Dartmouth College has to offer.
These technologies will be presented at the 30th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium. The research projects are products of Dartmouth’s human-computer interface lab.
"Understanding and improving how humans interact with computers are essential parts of technology development," said Xing-Dong Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth. "We look forward to UIST as a unique opportunity to share ideas on innovation."
The first technology presented is the RetroShape. RetroShape is a watch that allows users to play games and feel a ball bounce or an asteroid explode in the game.
Researchers wanted to improve the user experience with smartwatches. RetroShape uses a shape-deforming watch back that allows the user to view and feel virtual objects.
Each pixel on the RetroShape screen has a corresponding tactile pixel on the back of the watch face. This allows the virtual world to be extended to the 2.5D physical space on it’s back. The construction allows watch developers to use the wearer’s skin under the watch face for feeling output that matches the visual content that is being displayed on the watch.
The back of the watch is constructed using 16 independently moving points that allow for real-life rendering of shapes and movements.
The second item presented is Frictio, a smart ring that focuses on output. Most design use smart rings to receive instructions from the wearer. But Frictio is the first of its kind to provide useful feedback.
Frictio is a braking system and electronics in a ring that provides sensory feedback through six separate force profiles that provide information to the user. If the wearer has plenty of time before the meeting, the ring calendar reminder could be set to rotate freely. If there are five minutes left before the next meeting, the ring could be made to move with heavy resistance or forced to stop completely.
"Designing a smart ring that provides information rather than just receiving inputs can unlock the true potential of these devices," said Yang.
The final system that Dartmouth is presenting is Pyro. Pyro is a technique for thumb-tip recognition that senses thermal signals radiating from fingers to recognize gestures. Researchers used a low-cost, off-the-shelf infrared sensor to create an improved system for using finger gestures to interact with computing applications. They have demonstrated the effectiveness of gesturing forms of basic shapes, a check mark and a question mark.
The infrared sensor in the Pyro system is highly sensitive to subtle motion and enables recognition of fine gestures. It also has other important benefits. The system is energy-efficient and it requires no cooling. These are important features for small consumer devices and wearables.