A sneak peak at radical future user interfaces for phones, computers, and VR

October 20, 2017

Grabity: a wearable haptic interface for simulating weight and grasping in VR (credit: UIST 2017)

Drawing in air, touchless control of virtual objects, and a modular mobile phone with snap-in sections (for lending to friends, family members, or even strangers) are among the innovative user-interface concepts to be introduced at the 30th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST 2017) on October 22–25 in Quebec City, Canada.

Here are three concepts to be presented, developed by researchers at Dartmouth College’s human computer interface lab.

Retroshape: tactile watch feedback

Darthmouth’s Retroshape concept would add a shape-deforming tactile feedback system to the back of a future watch, allowing you to both see and feel virtual objects, such as a bouncing ball or exploding asteroid. Each pixel on RetroShape’s screen has a corresponding “taxel” (tactile pixel) on the back of the watch, using 16 independently moving pins.

UIST 2017 | RetroShape: Leveraging Rear-Surface Shape Displays for 2.5D Interaction on Smartwatches

Frictio smart ring

Current ring-gadget designs will allow users to control things. Instead, Frictio uses controlled rotation to provide silent haptic alerts and other feedback.

UIST 2017 — Frictio: Passive Kinesthetic Force Feedback for Smart Ring Output

Pyro: fingertip control

Pyro is a covert gesture-recognition concept, based on moving the thumb tip against the index finger — a natural, fast, and unobtrusive way to interact with a computer or other devices. It uses an energy-efficient thermal infrared sensor to detect to detect micro control gestures, based on patterns of heat radiating from fingers.

UIST 2017 — Pyro: Thumb-Tip Gesture Recognition Using Pyroelectric Infrared Sensing

Highlights from other presentations at UIST 2017:

UIST 2017 Technical Papers Preview