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Our interaction with gadgets can be changed by radar


Scientists at the University of St Andrews have made further advances in the use of miniature radar techniques, which could transform the way we interact with computers, smart watches and other devices.

“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,” said Lead researcher, Hui Shyong Yeo.

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).

The scientists explored two research questions with radar as a platform for sensing tangible interaction with the counting, ordering, identification of objects and tracking the orientation, movement and distance of these objects.

“We detail the design space and practical use-cases for such interaction which allows us to identify a series of design patterns, beyond static interaction, which are continuous and dynamic. This exploration is grounded in both a characterisation of the radar sensing and our rigorous experiments which show that such sensing is accurate with minimal training,” added Professor Quigley.

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. It has worked with Google on Project Soli, a radar-based sensor that can sense the micro and subtle motion of human fingers.

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 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 64GHz, which are higher than typically allowed in normal gadgets.




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