Sixth Sense (Blog Entry 6)

Sixth Sense- Pattie Maes

Pattie Maes is a professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences. She founded and directs the Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces group. She is an expert in areas such as human-computer interaction, intelligent interfaces and ubiquitous computing. She also is an editor of three books, and is a editorial board member and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences.

It was during a lecture she gave at  TED conference, where her idea behind ‘Sixth Sense’ was revealed. One of the first things she said in her speech was that she was always fascinated by the question of whether we could ever develop a sixth sense. A sense, she says, ‘that would give us seamless access to meta information.’

Working with one of her students, Pranav Mistry, who implemented and designed the system, ‘Sixth Sense’ came to be a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information. In simpler words, the device was meant to present its users with relevant information that would help them makes decisions. The device cost $350 to create and was built from items that could easily be bought from stores. The prototype consists of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera. How the device works is that the projector projects visual information enabling surfaces, walls and physical objects around us to be used as interfaces; while the camera recognizes and tracks user’s hand gestures and physical objects using computer-vision based techniques. The software program then processes the video stream data captured by the camera and tracks the locations of the colored markers (visual tracking fiducials) at the tip of the user’s fingers using simple computer-vision techniques. The movements and arrangements of these fiducials are interpreted into gestures that act as interaction instructions for the projected application interfaces.

Watching Maes TED talk, you can’t help but be fascinated by how this creation actually works. The fact that we could possibly develop a sixth sense becomes more believable from examples shown in Maes’ demo with Pranav Mistry. The video posted on the TED website drew comments from viewers, who voiced their concerns and their excitement for this device. One person mentioned that the possibilities for the use of the device are endless and it will undeniably change the way we go about our lives. But their main concern, which I 100% agree with, is that they believe it will take away much of our personal decision making processes. Although our future is heading towards more technologically inclined lifestyles, the human race would much rather prefer to make decisions on their own, based on their own opinions, as opposed to having a robot or computer decide things for them.

It would be exciting to find out what this device has evolved into today.

Sources Used


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