Cookie Scale Computing: Human-Computer Interfaces as Piles of Smart Little Things

Jeevan Kalanithi, Principal, Taco Lab

Date: Thursday, March 5

Time: 9:30 - 9:45 AM

Location: Salon E

What happens when smart machines go from this size of a chocolate bar to the size of a cookie?  Our smallest smart things are now mobile phones, but smaller things are coming around the corner and offer brand new interaction possibilities.  How do we profit from the next small thing?

Right now, the graphical user interface is the de facto metaphor for most of our diverse activities using computers and mobile devices. Tangible and ubiquitous computing research, along with recent consumer products such as the Wii, show that we can create more compelling interactions through the co-design of sensing hardware and physical form.  We see a world in which a person will carry a pocketful of cookie scale computers, and use them together as a coordinated interface, leveraging powerful human gestural-cognitive abilities that are not possible with single devices such as phones and laptops.

We have built Siftables - sets of compact motion-sensitive, wireless, neighbor-detecting displays that can be manipulated gesturally as a single, coordinated interface. Siftables fit the mobile and social conteext; they do not rely on external sensing infrastructure like tabletop or augmented reality systems.  As a new platform, Siftables provide an opportunity to experiment with a possible next-generation of user interface.

We believe this style of human computer interaction presages a world in which people are able to accomplish information tasks anywhere, while remaining rooted in their physical world and leveraging their physical bodies - not staring off into a display, dumb to their surroundings.

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