Alternative Input Devices
From Horizon Project
| 2009 Short List
 Time-to-Adoption: One year or Less
 Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years
 Time-to-Adoption: Four to Five Years
All around us, new interaction devices are changing the way we communicate with computers and other technology. First appearing in the gaming world, the Nintendo Wii and its “wand” controller broke away from the traditional handheld controller and keyboard/mouse models. Along with other innovative interfaces like Activision’s Guitar Hero, these devices allow players to engage in virtual activities with motion and movement similar to what they would use in the real world. Apple’s iPhone, and the emerging table-sized Microsoft Surface, broke similar barriers in the realm of interactive displays with their multi-touch screen-based controls. These two innovations – accelerometer-based devices and multi-touch screens – allow users to manipulate content intuitively, using natural gestures like flicking the wrist or sweeping the fingertips over a display.
Accelerometer-based devices use speed, direction, and momentum as inputs. The Wii-mote (the controller for the Wii) acts like an extension of the body, conveying arm gestures to the device’s sensors. Other devices like the Wii Balance Board detect body posture, allowing the system to react to the user’s entire body and enabling the simulation of physics concepts and principles of motion through kinesthetic experience. Large multi-touch displays also open up possibilities for collaborative activity; only one person can use a mouse, but the Surface responds to several users at the same time.
 Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Expression
- Portable devices, especially those that can be used with one hand, increase the user’s mobility, enabling research like data capture and analysis to be done in the field.
- Multi-sensory input devices like the ones mentioned here engage the user on multiple levels, creating more immersive experiences for learners.
- Input devices that behave like instruments or artists’ materials enhance the transfer of real-world skills to computer-assisted music and art, enabling artists to experiment with a wider range of forms for creative expression.
- Physicists in Italy designed experiments for secondary school science students using the accelerometer in a Wii remote: http://www.physorg.com/news104502773.html
- Classes at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill (Australia) are using techniques developed by Carnegie Mellon graduate student Johnny Lee to adapt the Wii remote as an interactive whiteboard: http://heyjude.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/wiimote-in-my-classrooms/
- iKana Touch is a language application for the iPhone that allows Japanese language learners to review Hiragana and Katakana, see an animation of how each character is written, and practice forming a character by drawing it directly on the touch screen: http://www.thinkmac.co.uk/ikanatouch/
 For Further Reading
- Johnny Chung Lee: Projects
Johnny Chung Lee's projects include interactive whiteboard surfaces and other tracking applications that use the Wii remote. Videos demonstrating the projects and the source code that make them work are available on the site.
- Steven Levy on Melding the Digital and Physical Realms
(Steven Levy, Wired, October 2008.) This brief article describes the Wii, Guitar Hero, and the iPhone as the long-promised merging of the virtual and the real.
- Top15 Interactive Display Technologies
(Naveen, Gizmo Watch, May 2007.) This article lists fifteen interactive display technologies, including tabletop and wall-mounted multi-touch screens.
 Share More Examples or Resources
If you have additional examples, please add them below:
- The iFun turns your iPhone into a Wii like controller http://mashable.com/2008/11/17/ifun/ --Alan 14:59, 19 November 2008 (PST)
- "Oblong's g-speak: the 'Minority Report' OS brought to life" http://www.engadget.com/2008/11/14/oblongs-g-speak-the-minority-report-os-brought-to-life/ --Alan 14:59, 19 November 2008 (PST)
- Add an example here [LJ]