Mobile devices serve as own mice with optical sensing (w/ Video)

April 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The same inexpensive, but high-quality optical sensors employed in the common computer mouse can enable small mobile phones and digital music players to be used as their own pointing and gestural input devices, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII).

By installing a pair of optical sensors on the back of a mobile phone or mp3 player, the researchers found that the entire device could have many of the same benefits as that of a computer mouse when the device was placed against a surface, a piece of clothing or the palm of a hand. This new input method, called Minput, responds to up-down, and side-to-side motions, like a , but also to twisting and flicking motions.

"Minput turns out to be a fairly intuitive way to navigate through menus or photo galleries on a device's display without fumbling with tiny buttons or obscuring a small touchscreen with your fingers," said Chris Harrison, a third-year Ph.D. student who developed the method with his faculty adviser, HCII Professor Scott Hudson. "Because we use a pair of sensors, it can respond to a wide range of gestural commands, much like an or other multi-touch device."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Twisting a Minput-equipped device — a gesture that proved particularly popular with beta testers — might allow a user to zoom in or out of a photo or document, while flicking the device against a surface enables the user, for instance, to switch between photos or between photo galleries. But Minput also permits high-precision positioning — such as selecting a sentence of text from a paragraph — that would be difficult to perform on a small touchscreen or with other types of gestural input, where the size of the finger might occupy a majority of the screen.

Harrison presented a paper on Minput earlier this month at CHI 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery's annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta.

Minput didn't require developing any new sensor technology, Harrison said. "The hard part was done for us; optical sensors are already fantastically well-engineered. And at about a dollar apiece, they wouldn't add much to the cost of a mobile phone or music player," he noted. "We just use these sensors in a new and clever way."

For their prototype, Harrison and Hudson mounted two optical sensors on the back of a wristwatch-size television with a 1.5-inch-diagonal display. Computer processing is performed off-board by a laptop computer. But Harrison said the Minput sensors and processors could be readily miniaturized to fit inside small mobile devices.

Explore further: Samsung Launches the World’s First 'Optical Joystick' Phone

More information: Project page: www.chrisharrison.net/projects/minput/

Related Stories

Sharp Releases Notebook PC with Optical Sensor LCD Pad

April 21, 2009

Sharp Corporation will release into the Japanese market a new notebook PC employing an optical sensor LCD for the touchpad. Its new touch-sensing recognition method allows handwritten input and intuitive direct-touch operation.

Beyond -- way beyond -- WIMP interfaces

July 8, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Human-computer interaction is undergoing a revolution, entering a multimodal era that goes beyond, way beyond, the WIMP (Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointers) paradigm. Now European researchers have developed a platform ...

Counterfeit euros are detected with an optical mouse

November 17, 2009

The sensor of some optical mice can be used to easily and cheaply detect counterfeit euros, according to a study published by Spanish researchers of the University of Lleida (UdL) in the scientific journal Sensors. Almost ...

Skinput turns your arm into a touchscreen (w/ Video)

March 1, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- If you find yourself getting annoyed at the tiny touchscreens on today's mobile devices, you might be interested in a "new" yet overlooked input surface: yourself. A new skin-based interface called Skinput ...

Recommended for you

Facebook ready to test giant drone for Internet service

July 30, 2015

Facebook says it will begin test flights later this year for a solar-powered drone with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, in the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.