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The Stranger Side of Chi 2009

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robot cell phone

MIT Technology Review

ACM's CHI 2009, the 27th Computer-Human Interaction Conference, spotlighted many new inventions and concepts, some of which were decidedly unusual. These included a wearable system that tracks eye movements to facilitate computer control, matchsticks that hold a tiny embedded camera and microphone, and a cell-phone robot named Cally (pictured.)

The wearable system was showcased by a team of researchers from ETH Zurich. It uses electrooculography, which measures fluctuations in the eye's electric potential field and enables the accurate calculation of horizontal and vertical movements in conjunction with electrodes placed above, below, and to either side of the eyes.

Cally, a prototype robot equipped with wheels, arms, and space for a cell phone to dock and function as a face was demonstrated by a team from Canada's Simon Fraser University. Once hooked up, the cell phone will eventually act as the robot's face, displaying simple expressions on its screen.

A group from Keio University in Japan highlighted turtle-shaped clocks that sync when they touch to display related photos. The researchers say such devices can be used to trigger "collective memory" as well as produce visual correlations between users by understanding their relationships and by analyzing tags affixed to photos. Meanwhile, a team from NTT Cyber Solutions in Japan modified a computer mouse and trackball to change temperature in response to being rolled over different things on a computer screen and tagged objects with temperature data.

Another unusual innovation at CHI 2009 was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology prototype of a double-headed matchstick outfitted with a minuscule camera, microphone, and projector. It is designed to record images and sounds in response to being ignited at one end, and play back the recording when it is lit at the other end.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA



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