Ever stand in front of an old TV and move your body around to get better reception? It's a bit like using a Kinect. Apparently, your body and home can become a Kinect of sorts by using electromagnetic fields, according to research at Microsoft and the University of Washington.
The researchers are working on a new system that could turn your home into a big input device. Unlike with the Kinect, however, the player does not have to stand in front of a camera--the controller works with nearly all surfaces and electric appliances in the building.
As outlined in a paper (PDF) presented to the Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2011) in Vancouver, the researchers' system makes use of electromagnetic noise to detect a person's position or gestures.
Every home is covered with an electromagnetic field created by power lines and some household appliances. In experiments, conductive pads were placed on the necks of subjects to measure the voltages of electromagnetic signals radiating from walls and power lines.
The pad was connected to a data acquisition device and a laptop carried around in backpacks. The researchers found that they were able to turn nearly any surface or electrical device in the home into an interactive input system. … Read more