/// The Disappearing Interface

March 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital

Where static computer screens and smartphones suck in our gaze and extract us from the world around us, many of the most interesting new tech gadgets and ideas move us back out into the open. A blind beta tester of Le Chal navigates an open space via vibrating insoles. Instead of all-purpose, full-focus devices, these new tools are migrating outward, on and around our bodies, to our fingers and heads and wrists and ears, and even feet. From there, they can be ready to help us the moment we need them, in a manner that’s less abstracted and hard to talk about without referencing science fiction. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s becoming more and more accessible and interesting. You might glue together a bunch of these ideas by thinking of them as the disappearance of the interface. At the TED Conference this past week in Long Beach, Calif., a number of the talks and demos showed off ways for interfaces to melt away so both inputs and outputs can adapt and be more accessible. For instance, an eye surgeon from India named Anthony Vipin Das has created vibrating insoles that help deaf people navigate the world by gently buzzing their feet with directional cues. Das’s company, Ducere Technologies , is based in Hyderabad, and the product, which will cost about $40 and is set to go on sale in India in about six months, is called Le Chal (“take me there” in Hindi). So, for instance, 20 meters away from a left turn, a Le Chal wearer would feel a calibrated buzz in his left shoe. Then, 10 meters away, a longer duration. And at the turning location, a persistent buzz until the turn is successfully completed. And all this without a cane or a companion, or any indication to others that the sense of direction is coming via haptic signals to his feet. In the coming months, Le Chal expects to add obstacle detection and indoor navigation, Das said. The company is working on a sort of Morse code vibration language to communicate more complex directions and warnings

Originally posted here:
The Disappearing Interface

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.