Skinput Discussion Points


As stated by the article, “Skinput is a technology that appropriates the human body for acoustic transmission, allowing the skin to be used as an input surface.” In particular, the authors talk about how finger taps/presses on different locations on our hands and arms can be resolved by analyzing vibrations (transverse and longitudinal) that propagate through the skin. Wave data is collected using an array of sensors that can be worn as an armband. The primary goal of Skinput is to “provide an always available mobile, naturally portable, and on-body finger input system – that is, an input system that does not require a user to carry or pick up a device.”

The article describes the following:
• The design and uses of the Skinput device
• A study on potential users which assesses the robustness and limitations of the Skinput system
• Supplementary experiments to show the versatility of the system

Discussion Points:

One strong point about the article was that the described work that related to the Skinput system. For example the authors included sections on always-available input, bio-sensing, bio-acoustics, and so on. They then went on further to explain how these topics related to the Skinput system. Another strong point was that the authors did a thorough job when explaining how their system worked. They talked about everything from the design of the sensor armband to how the transverse and longitudinal waves were produced in the skin.

The supplementary experiments section of the paper was particularly interesting. The authors highlighted several alternate applications of the Skinput system which included use of the system while walking or jogging, single-handed gestures, object/surface recognition, identification of finger tap type, and so on. They also went over possible interfaces that the system could use along with pictures of the same. The Skinput system seems to have a lot of potential and I am looking forward to reading more about it in the future.

I thought that the experiment would have been a lot more successful and even more convincing to me as a reader if they had had a larger sample size when testing their system. Although it seems that their system performed extremely well on several tests, it should be considered that the experimenters only used 13 participants in their study. I personally feel that a sample this small cannot sufficiently generalize to the larger set of potential users of the Skinput system. On the other hand, the experimental design, methods, and procedures were well defined.