GravitySpace shows how floors will smarten up (w/ video)

Jan 24, 2013 by Nancy Owano report
Credit: Hasso-Plattner-Institut

(Phys.org)—Year of the smartphone? So yesterday. Year of the smart room? So promising. In scientific circles, conversations are moving down from smart doors, fridges, stoves, and toilets, as computer scientists visit and revisit the technology potential of smart floors. With enhanced sensory powers, the idea is to have floors able to interact with the persons walking on them. The floor gets to "know" its own geometry as well as people's actions, and can display interactive video.

With this potential in mind, a team from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany have a research project called GravitySpace.

At the Institute, the project team members are Alan Bränzel, Daniel Hoffmann, Marius Knaust, Patrick Lühne, René Meusel, and Stephan Richter supervised by Christian Holz and Dominik Schmidt at the Lab of Prof.Patrick Baudisch. They are exploring high-resolution pressure-sensitive floors as a way to track people and furniture in smart rooms. They see the device as a potential forerunner to pressure-sensing floors in people's homes.

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Credit: Dominik Schmidt / Hasso-Plattner-Institut

They have devised an eight-square-meter pressure-sensing , where people are recognized by their weight. The team will present GravitySpace at the Conference on Human Factors in in Paris in April.

"We have created an 8 m² back-projected floor prototype," they said, which they define as "a set of passive touch-sensitive furniture, as well as algorithms for identifying users, furniture, and poses."

Baudisch, chair of the lab at the Hasso Plattner Institute, has put their efforts into somewhat loftier terms. He said "The objective of our work is to unify the of the computer with the physical world of the user into a single 'Euclidean' space. We argue that this is the key to intuitive or 'natural' user interfaces."

They installed a slab of glass, which is 6.4-centimeters-thick, in a hole cut into a floor. Their construct calls for an and high-resolution video projector in a room below that can track footprints, and beams video up onto the glass. Infrared LEDs surround the flooring, coated with a rubbery, pressure-sensitive film.

Credit: Hasso-Plattner-Institut

A foot stepping on the surface makes the film interfere with the infrared light, creating an image of the footprint that is captured by the camera below. Software on a linked computer recognizes what those objects are doing and generates video in response.

One example is using the smart floor for domestic indoor play, a type of rainy-day weekend football. The floor generates a football that can be kicked about by people in the room. The floor measures the rate of change of pressure on the non-kicking foot to determine when the person is kicking.

Another imagined scenario is sitting on the floor and, because the floor can recognize the sitter's weight, can turn on the television to that person's favorite channel.

Their project has been helped along with funding from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK.

While the smart floor concept can easily inspire thoughts of fun at home, there are practical applications that sensor-rich floors may provide, such as use in home security, in detecting unfamiliar steps, or, in the case of the elderly, alerting caregivers if a patient falls. Last year, IBM was granted a patent for a smart floor designed to detect intruders or alert medical support. The technology would involve a database of objects and sensors for tracking numbers, eights, shapes, and locations of objects in a room.

Explore further: Google to test cars without a driver

More information: Project site

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User comments : 10

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NeutronicallyRepulsive
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2013
So useless it hurts to watch the video. Even though I personally don't have TV for almost twenty years, I don't see the good stuff here. They're so desperately trying to look casual. It's all but. I can play soccer outside with real ball, not have to worry about destroying the surroundings. I can see some pressure detection for possible security reasons, or even standalone display as a "wallpaper" (in combination with other walls). But there's no need to detect people's feet's shadows, render fake reflections, and track movements of the furniture, or even fake boring games (all of which requires one additional floor below!?). I see desperation in this video, and pain it is.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (3) Jan 24, 2013
It is amazing how the floor follows the POV of the camera. Does it only track the camera or do all users see the 3D floor from their perspective?
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2013
as a way to track people and furniture in smart rooms

Tracking furniture? Really? It moves around that much that it needs tracking?

I once worked at a reseach facilty that had a 5 wall cave (including floor)...which was nice to do immersive finite simulations in (and also play Quake).... but when all is said and done the immersion didn't really justify the cost.
alfie_null
not rated yet Jan 25, 2013
I imagine with a little more work the floor could be configured to recognize individuals by cues like how they walk, how much they weigh, etc.
Grallen
not rated yet Jan 25, 2013
computers are getting to the point that they can do the tracking with a set of cameras(kinect is an early example). Is the floor not far too expensive to do this kind of task?
Shabs42
not rated yet Jan 25, 2013
So useless it hurts to watch the video. Even though I personally don't have TV for almost twenty years, I don't see the good stuff here. They're so desperately trying to look casual. It's all but. I can play soccer outside with real ball, not have to worry about destroying the surroundings.


I'll bet when the first computer came out you said "What's the point in this? I can add things with pencil and paper!"
NeutronicallyRepulsive
1 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2013
Dear.. Shabs42: I'm talking about this exact product, technology in that video. As I said:
I don't see the good stuff here
.
I didn't say it is entirely pointless to make a progress, did I?

So back to you: I'll bet when this hat came out,.. you still wear it today.

http://assets.nyd...-hat.jpg
VendicarD
not rated yet Jan 25, 2013
This is amazing, I can't wait for the day that I can auto-flush my toilet by stomping on the floor and unlocking my front door by dancing a little dance on my front step.

Here is the overall plan...

http://www.youtub...haRkuipU
Shabs42
not rated yet Jan 26, 2013
Dear.. Shabs42: I'm talking about this exact product, technology in that video. As I said:
I don't see the good stuff here
.
I didn't say it is entirely pointless to make a progress, did I?

So back to you: I'll bet when this hat came out,.. you still wear it today.

http://assets.nyd...-hat.jpg


First, that hat is awesome. Second, fair enough; but the first line of the article does state that this is a research project. I agree that if they sold the product as it currently is it would be pretty worthless. Always a fan of progress though, including that hideous and wonderful hat.
NeutronicallyRepulsive
1 / 5 (2) Jan 26, 2013
Shabs42: I'm a fan as well. But this is too complicated, and space consuming. It fails to entertain some plausible uses. As presented at this moment, it looks not worth the space it takes. I find our cellar quite useful. But I'm willing to hold my breath for a little while.