Single-Handed No-Eyes Universal Input Device

Background:
Computer keyboards as we have them today were designed about 130 years ago. It is an interesting fact that earlier models permitted to type faster, but would also cause the “hammers” to jam if the typist was too fast. A clever engineer solved the problem by spreading out commonly used keys and thereby slowing down every typist. For 130 years we have been stuck with that slow keyboard even if jamming is no longer a issue. But the real problem of current keyboards is that they require a surface to pose them and require either two hands or one hand and eye commitment. Hence they are not adequate as input device when walking or driving. Yet it would be useful to be able to type short messages even while driving. For instance it would be safer if we could choose a radio station or a GPS location without removing the eyes from the road and the hands from the steering wheel.

Objective:
Our objective is to develop an input device that can be used when a single hand is free and without committing the eyes. The design should be such that, in principle, it could be placed on the side of an iPhone, a mouse, a steering wheel, a handlebar etc. We already have a working bluetooth enabled prototype but the possibilities for extensions are numerous. Contributions may be in terms of hardware, software, interface design, testbeds, error-correction, etc. A personal goal is to have such a device installed on my bike and be able to interact with my iPhone docked in the middle of the handlebar. Many other scenarios are imaginable. The project is open-ended. It can be adapted to all levels including Master Thesis and Ph.D. Collaboration with experts on relevant areas such as ergonomics, human-computer interaction, interface design will be sought as needed.

 

Supervisor:
Prof. Bixio Rimoldi, tel: 32679, office INR 111, bixio.rimoldi@epfl.ch