Its not very often that a completely new interface comes along, even less common is a new interface that actually makes sense. The Balloon Input Device – BID – may just be a little bit of both, a rare whacky idea that may actually work.
Using only two sensors the developers detect various actions, squeeze, rub, poke. A pressure sensor measures changes to the air pressure inside the balloon, with changes indicating a squeeze or poke. The microphone is able to detect movement over the balloons surface.
A part of the new generation of tactile input devices, the next generation touch interface. At the moment the BID only provides audio feedback when it senses one of the actions but this can easily be redirected to triggering other actions.
“We think this system could be used as a communication medium. When communicating with someone at a distance, the user could express affection to the other person by stroking the balloon, or get their attention by poking it. So we think the system could be used as an input device for communicating with other people.”
The BID contains a tiny circuit board with the pressure sensor and microphone that are used to interpret the users input, balloon interactions. The pressure sensor is able to detect squeezing and tapping of the balloons using internal changes in air pressure, while the microphone detects the various sounds made when stroking or rubbing the balloon. The researchers from Osaka University are now working on integrating the sensors into more hardy inflatable devices like rubber balls and the possibility of including feedback systems that could turn BID into a true tactile – touchy feely – two way communications system.
“When communicating with someone at a distance, the user could express affection to the other person by stroking the balloon, or get their attention by poking it.” the researches said at the recent 10th annual International Conference on Entertainment Computing – ICEC 2011 -.
Part of an expanding virtual world that drags us in using various senses the BID and other systems like it will find there way in to everyday life. From Tickle me Elmo to the latest generation robotic toys the advancement in sensing and interfaces brings new abilities to the gadgets we use every day. Not only for fun these systems will also be invaluable as medical sensors, communications systems. Giving any system or device that requires a tactile interface a whole new option, the Hug Interface. Will we soon be able to transmit a hug? It is very possible.
Buddha’s Brother out…