[CEATEC 2014] The evolution of the user interface on mobile devices is an interesting one, where it first started off with physical, tactile buttons that we pressed, so much so that many of us became adept at typing out an entire text message correctly, punctuation marks and all, without even needing to have a look at the screen itself. Some drivers have managed to make use of this particular ability to send out text messages while they are behind the wheel, and while this means that they can keep both eyes on the road, it does not make it any safer. Having said that, the physical keyboard eventually gave way to a full touchscreen that we all know and love today, and could gestures be the next level of evolution, or will it co-exist as another pillar when it comes to user interfaces? Only time will tell, but this Sensor Network Module is a pretty interesting concept that requires you to wear a “ring” so to speak, as you manipulate a particular user interface using gestures.
The Sensor Network Module at this point in its development has approximately 4 hours of battery life only, and that does not include standby time, but rather, pure action oriented movement all the time. Hopefully future iterations will see an advancement in this particular area so that it can be more practical in its usage. Right now, it has yet to enter production although that is set to happen some time later this year, and it will work via Bluetooth – which means that there is a maximum working range of 10 meters thereabouts.
Initial experience with this Sensor Network Module that is worn on your finger proved to be less than 100% accurate – there were moments when it did not move the selection on the menu up despite being gestured in such a manner, while other times failed to perform a selection. Basically, it can only go up, down, left and right at this point in time – I do not know whether it will be able to detect movement on the Z-axis though, which would definitely add a whole new dimension to the user.
Future applications include algorithms being written to have it function alongside your vehicle, or perhaps with your mobile device, but as of this point in time, it is content with manipulating a simple user interface on a tablet. Having both sensing and communication expertise under the same roof does have its advantages, and hopefully there will be different choices of the aesthetics to pick from to suit the many different personalities out there, since a “ring” can be a very personal thing.