Everyone has a slight muscle tremor --
a rhythmic movement of the muscles of around 10 hertz, or cycles per second.
This natural muscle tremor must be compensated for in input devices like
joysticks and surgical tools.
Researchers from the National University of Ireland and the University
of Glasgow in Scotland are looking to treat muscle tremor as an input
mechanism rather than something that must be filtered out. Like fingerprints,
muscle tremor patterns are individually distinct, depending on the structure,
mass and stiffness of an arm.
The researchers have demonstrated a system made from a handheld
PC that contains an accelerometer that senses the muscle tremor signal.
The system mimics a pressure sensor by monitoring tremor changes from
tensing, allowing a user to pump up an on-screen balloon by squeezing
the device. The system also demonstrates a potential mobile telephone
application; it can be set to stop ringing when a user picks it up.
The method could eventually be used for security applications
that would sense individual muscle patterns, according to the researchers.
It could be used as a posture recognition system because muscle tremor
patterns change depending on the posture of an arm. The posture recognition
capability could be used as part of an interface that allows users to
store and retrieve information and programs at various points around the
body, according to the researchers.
The acclerometers required by the method are becoming relatively
inexpensive, and are beginning to be incorporated into mobile phones.
The method could be used practically within the next two to five years,
according to the researchers.
The work was presented at the User Interface Software and Technology
2004 (UIST '04) conference held October 24 through 27 in Santa Fe, New
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