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Response to [Skinput …] by Harrison et al.


This paper presents a way of appropriating part of human body as the input interface, motivated by a need to extend small mobile devices. The underlying technology is called acoustic input where the tapping of body parts can cause different vibration patterns in muscles and captured by sensors. These patterns can further serve as interface input such as selecting from a number of menu buttons. To explore such input methods, the paper designed three main input location sets (fingers, whole arm and forearm) and measured the accuracy of using them. What is more interesting is they also conducted some supplemental experiments to incorporate more input varieties such as single-handed gestures, surface and object recognition, identification of finger tap type, etc.


The primary goal of Skinput is to provide an always-available mobile input system.

Always-Available Input: an input system that does not require a user to carry or pick up a device. Several approaches include: computer vision-based, speech input, wearable computing, and some others like SixthSense.


  • Proprioception – our sense of how our body is configured in three-dimensional space. This is a concept similar to kinethetic memory;
  • Wearable computing:
    • Post, E. and Orth, M. Smart fabric, or “wearable clothing”. Digest of Papers. First International Symposium on Wearable Computers, 167-168.
    • Sturman, D. and Zeltzer, D. A survey of glove-based input. IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 14, 1 (1994), 30-39.
  • Interesting thoughts on alternative input methods:
    • walking and jogging
    • single-handed gestures;
    • surface and object recognition
    • identification of finger tap type
    • segmenting finger input
  • While Skinput focuses on solving the always-available problem, BM is more than that. Being ‘always available’ is just one of the many aspects of BM.
  • One of the main limitations of this approach might be it only detects ‘tap’ – that just offers a narrow range of interactions.

About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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