Scottish university transforms tech interaction with new technique

Researchers at University of St Andrews have developed a technique that could transform human interaction with computers

The St Andrews Computer Human Interaction research group (SACHI) is a pioneer in what is known as solinteraction, which demonstrates the potential for radar-based interaction and has worked with Google on Project Soli, a radar-based sensor that can sense the micro and subtle motion of human fingers.

In a move that could herald a major advance in the technology, the US Federal Communications Commission has recently granted Google a waiver that allows Project Soli sensors to use frequencies between 57 and 64 Ghz, which are higher than typically allowed in normal gadgets.

In 2015 Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) showed off tiny radar-based sensors that enabled users to control gadgets simply by tapping their fingers together.

In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM on interactive, mobile, wearable and ubiquitous technologies, the St Andrews researchers demonstrate a range of novel techniques.

Professor Aaron Quigley, chair of human computer interaction in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews, said: “Research has explored miniature radar as a promising sensing technique for the recognition of gestures, objects, users’ presence and activity. However, within human-computer interaction (HCI), its use remains underexplored, in particular in tangible user interface (TUI).”

Commenting on solinteraction, lead researcher and 3rd year PHD student Hui Shyong Yeo said: “The advent of low-cost miniature radar being deployed in day to day settings opens new forms of object and material interactions as we demonstrate in this work.”

For more information, see the SACHI website: https://sachi.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/

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