Electrostatic computer interface


[Justin] sent in his 1st place winning project from Northeastern’s Electrical Engineering Senior Design Capstone. It’s an interface that uses electrostatics to detect your hand position above it. As you can see in the video, it has decent resolution and can detect position on all 3 axes. When they uncover it, you can see the sensors arranged in a grid. They point out that each sensor isn’t just like a button, but rather detects a range of motion. They are using a pic 18×4550 to handle the sensors, which then communicates to the PC via USB. This could be pretty useful for musical performances as well as an alternative interface for people who can’t use a mouse.EO

24 thoughts on “Electrostatic computer interface

  1. I guess the theory of electrostatics is no longer a theory anymore, it has been proven by these fellows. This would be great for video games.

  2. Good work which undoubtedly took a lot of effort.

    But it is hardly a new concept: Google “electric field imaging”.

  3. looks like it would provide a better interface for interacting with holographic or stereoscopic interfaces, than the current attempts to use a camera to interpret movements. or maybe it could supplement that technology to provide a more reliable solution?

  4. I figured this would end up on here at some point!! My group placed third in the same competition. I hope they open up the design details on this. They’re demo was great, and they easily spent the most time in the lab.

  5. I wonder if, given enough sensitivity, it could deconvolve the data and detect the shape of your hand. Only if your hand was close enough to the device of course.

  6. Haha nice use of FL Studio :) Very interesting! I see you made a MIDI controller and did that – the music end of it wouldn’t be hard at all.

    Very creative.

  7. Reminds me of the Asimov novels featuring Elijah Baley and the robot Daneel Olivaw. There are several descriptions of people issuing orders to robots using hand positions, and I believe electrostatics was mentioned as the sensor technology.

  8. Seems pretty basic stuff a teacher would use as a standard demonstration to me, but hey I also think it’s incredible that (army-)choppers still fly into electrical wires while there are a dozen very low tech cheap ways to detect if you are near a high power line, starting with a fluorescent tube connected to nothing.
    Point being that lots of basic stuff that millions of people learn and know still isn’t used in (often obvious) applications.
    Nevertheless I’m a bit underwhelmed, and I bet you can find patents on this particular thing dating back to before 1920, although obviously not connecting to a computer :)

  9. I believe this to be a somewhat plagerization of my sons work and his PHD mentor at U of Del.
    http://www.fingerworks.com/ This was later sold to Apple computer.

    I think the faculty at Northeastern’s Electrical Engineering dept should look into this thoughly. I am disappointed they didnt do enough research into the history.

    The simple bowtie antenna was invented in 1898 and patented. It was since reinvented at least three times since then and re-patented. This kind of nonsense must stop !

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