Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wearable Computers to have a "Sixth Sense"!

Wearable computers have a Sixth Sense - imagination or reality? Pranav Mistry of MIT Media Lab has created a device to exactly fit this bill!

Pranav Mistry is a PhD student in the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT's Media Lab. He has invented a wearable system made out of off-the-shelf components that augment the way the wearer interacts with his environment. It consists of a web-cam, a small projector with a mirror, a connection to the cell phone (for internet connectivity) and four different colored finger caps for the gestures. He has named it SixthSense. According to him, it costs about $350 to build the hardware. The source code for the software has been put in the open by him releasing it under GPL.

This brings up a few technical questions:
  • What is the hardware platform that is doing all the intensive computation?
  • What language(s) have been used to create the software platform?
  • How about the battery - all the devices require a lot of juice. Is it feasible to get good battery life over extended periods?
  • What happens in cases where connectivity to internet is lost?
  • Does it have ample local storage & intelligence built in, to work in offline mode and go online only when necessary?
  • Does it sync up it's knowledge (stored locally) to & from the base computer?

And a few questions which are not so technical:
  • Will this device ever be commercially available since the software has been GPL-ed?
  • Will we become so dependant on such devices for our interaction with our immediate environment that we loose our human touch & OUR sixth sense?
  • Would he have been able to create something as good had he continued his education in India?
  • What else lies in future - will we become Humanoids?

It's very difficult to correctly & satisfactorily answer these questions. But while we ponder on the possible answers, check out this video that demonstrates the Sixth Sense Device at TEDIndia held at Mysore, India in November 2009.

The demo is just awesome - imagine what the final device/system will be when it is fully mature!

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