Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


The Body Electric: Turn Your Skin Into a Touchscreen With "Skinput"

DiscoblogBy Smriti RaoMarch 3, 2010 10:02 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

If you're tired of squinting into your tiny iPod or phone screen, then how about switching to a whole new system that uses your skin's surface as a screen? Enter "Skinput," a new prototype that allows you to use your skin as both a touchscreen and an input device. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft's Redmond lab found that jabbing at body parts like the forearm created acoustic waves that could be detected higher up in the arm by a bunch of sensors strapped onto an armband. As bone densities and the amount of soft tissue varies at different locations in the body, the vibrations produced by the jabbing motion were different at various locations. So, if you press a bunch of "buttons" being projected on your skin by a tiny projector on the armband, the device can track your inputs precisely. PhysOrg explains:

Their software matches sound frequencies to specific skin locations, allowing the system to determine which “skin button” the user pressed. The prototype system then uses wireless technology like Bluetooth to transmit the commands to the device being controlled, such as a phone, iPod, or computer.

20 volunteers that tried out the prototype said it was easy to use, and the researchers are due to present their paper (pdf) in April at the Computer-Human Interaction conference in Atlanta. Here's a video explaining how Skinput works: Related Content: Discoblog: New Device Can Turn Your Kitchen Table Into a Touchscreen Discoblog: Why Our Oily Fingers Can Never Soil the iPhone’s Pristine ScreenImage: Skinput

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In