Pranav Mistry’s cool input devices

This new video about [Pranav Mistry's] SixthSense project doesn’t bring us much that we haven’t seen before. At least, not on that project. What really caught our eye was the device he shows off at the beginning of the video. Using two old ball mice, he constructed a grip style input device. It is simple and elegant and we can definitely see using this in future hacks. Not only is it cheap and apparently effective, it seems as though it could be constructed in a very short amount of time. all you need are the wheels that spin when the ball moves, 4 springs and some string. Why didn’t we think of that?

[thanks Sean]


  1. dpraetorius says:

    Just a heads up, it seems that the wrong video is embedded in the post.

  2. andrew says:

    where is it? video is not what you described

  3. andrew says:

    If yall want to see the video use 1st link

  4. Caleb Kraft says:

    Sorry guys, got it fixed.

  5. LuciusMare says:

    Nice hack, and the rest of the video is also worth watching.

  6. MyYz400 says:

    This seems like a great step in the right direction. I’m not sure I would want my bank balance projected on a surface that could be seen by other though. I’d be happy with a high resolution transparent screen that could be worn like glasses, and could superimpose the image over real life so only I could see it. Great work!

  7. Tim Otto says:

    anyone else notice a resemblance to Daniel-son?

  8. Rex says:

    This would be really annoying, kind of like somebody standing over your shoulder telling you what to do. The iPhone and talking GPS’s are bad enough but this thing wouldn’t give you a break. I can see the future and we are all going to turn into a bunch of morons. Your brain, use it or lose it.

  9. Thatoneguy says:


    Yes! I can see how looking up weather or traffic or browsing the web on a phone will liquefy my brain and not knowing how to get to a place Ive never been before makes me a moron.

    The talk was about augmenting your physical surroundings with digital information, not ordering you around. Having live weather on my newspaper or taking pictures without removing a camera from my pocket will not reduce my intelligence.

    Use your brain man.

  10. Sam says:

    I’d use the little retractors that people commonly use for carrying ID badges and keys. They’re pre-spooled, they automatically return to their previous position and, most importantly, they’re cheap. ;)

  11. sarsface says:

    @Rex: Yeah, access to more information usually leads to less intelligence… :rolleyes:

  12. robomonkey says:

    @Sam: Good idea on the spooler.

  13. SIB says:

    @Thatoneguy @sarsface: Access to more information without proper filtering, sorting and searching mechanisms can detract from ability to act intelligently. Sixth sense seems to be an effort to introduce a new searching mechanism to the fold, one that has persistent access and uses physical context to augment filtering.

    Taking a dependency on this kind of tool is just that, becoming dependent on the tool. @Rex , if ineloquently, calls that out. Intellect can become numb and paralyzed in the face of un-informative data. Salient and timely data though, is a much different story. To confuse the two is naive and will lead down paths I’d rather not travel.

  14. pod says:

    All this really reminds me of the agumented reality glasses devices seen in the “Dennou Coil” anime.
    Has anyone ever watched it?

  15. aefaradien says:

    @pod : yep – ever since episode 1 i have been counting the days and slowly watching the technology appear around me. the 3d-objects in layer are looking very promising – now if only i could get the right type of contact-lenses…

  16. Alphathon says:

    I don’t know how or to what end, but I really want to experiment with this stuff together with Johnny Lee’s Wiimote hacks. Both are so simple and effective but so cheap, just imagine what other hacks like these there may be out there waiting to be imagined

  17. dougefresh says:

    I could see someone making a psp homebrew app with the eye cam connected.. that would be awesome, please someone make it happen!

  18. Madhur says:

    He is the man !
    *hats off* pranav !!!

  19. Sahal says:

    i want to know how he made the thing with the mice. that was cool. that could help me develop my IRLFPS game idea…

  20. Whatnot says:

    Too much of that projector/cam thing was reliant on very precisely set up situations, but it’s a basis for some ideas, but as is it’s clearly not going to work like that.
    Also he should make an algorithm so the cam recognizes his hands without wearing silly caps/tape on his fingers, can’t be hard, hand have a predictable shape and when the cam is on your body a predictable size range and left-right orientation, and temperature even.

    But frankly the thing would drive me mad, both with the constant meddling and in-the-center-of-view presence and with the fact that you’d be blocking the image with your own hands and arms, which is annoying but would also lead you to adopt a cramped movement as you tried to avoid that, and when even 2 out of 10 people were walking around projecting it would soon get annoying to be near crowds even if you weren’t using it yourself.

  21. squidarthur says:

    We’re critiquing the technology as it appears in prototype in 2009. This is clearly representative of a shift in focus from interfacing with individual digital devices to a single personal device than applies digital information technology to analog reality. To me, this makes a lot more sense than newspapers printed on ‘smart paper.’ Keep the paper dumb, and make the users ‘smart.’ Augmented reality is little more than a gimmick today, but give it ten years, fit the projector and camera in a headmount and spice up the object-recognition algorithms and see where it takes us.

  22. Dan says:

    I have something called a p5 glove which is simalar but also uses irda like the wii remote. i bought it years ago for about 20quid

  23. Some Kid says:

    Its pretty cool, but don’t see any practical use for it. It isn’t relly ideal for watching movies or playing games.

  24. Zeno Arrow says:

    @Some Kid
    If the only practical applications you can think of are based around watching movies or playing games then I’m not surprised you haven’t thought of uses for it. There are plenty of practical uses for AR tech. Watch the video again, see if you can spot them.

  25. ManOfGallifrey says:

    Well, I agree *tip of hat* to this man. I remember a few years back I saw an article about a group of guys, at a college I think, that were working on some type of h.u.d. combined with a wearable pc unit. They were tryin to use it to run a video game using reality, i.e. currently mapped buildings on the campus or some such thing to create an “overlayed” virtual world to “play” a game. It would seem that it if nothing else, we could see some seriously awesome gaming tech in the future.

    On a more serious not though, I agree with the people saying that this is a prototype of a prototype. We cant expect to see any real world applications of this tech until its refined and tested. This man is a mental titan in my opinion, simply because he “macguyver’d” a bunch of simple tech and concepts into a fresh take on some old and new ideas combined.

    Lastly, what about some RFID type of system in gloves? If they can track where a shirt disappeared to in a walmart within a few feet, Im sure they can tweak the tech in the future,… and to all the nay sayers, I highly doubt this man planned on the future of this tech continuing to use tape on fingers lol,…

  26. philip travers says:

    This will be very useful for sports playing where say, there is a shortage of cricket umpires and the players become the the umpires the scoreboard and is s possible to be reporting from ground everything,including if their physiological balls are overheating.Even a rude sequence for adults.Or try the Grid iron,Aussie Rules,stuff soccer,Rugby or even Tennis and be like MacEnroe,my old partner!Well at an extreme distance and screaming out aloud really!

  27. edonovan says:

    It seems annoying to me. How can it know exactly what information to give you? If I’m looking at a can of beer, I may want to know the alcohol content, where to get some, or one that is rated better. What gestures do I use to convey which I want to know?

    Even using his example of the ticket. How will it know if I want to know the actual departure time or the directions to the terminal? Although, it would be cool having a little arrow on the floor directing you where to go.

    It is a bing meets reality concept, which may prove to be too frustrating and impractical for many users.

  28. esperGal says:

    The opensource software is out just look up Pranav Mistry’s site and get to Sixth Sense Technology. The page within will have a link that takes you to the project’s page, with the source code and hardware specs.
    I’ve been thinking about possibly putting it together with the zzzstructure. There is another video on ted which uses something like the zzzstructure. The creator is also from MIT though they use projectors and various screens they also have a gloved user going through it…

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