Disappearing Mobile Devices

Figure: Disappearing mobile devices are too small to be held, so they have to be mounted, e.g. on the user’s wrist. Here the user is entering a ‘2’ by scanning two fingers. Depending on the desired degree of miniaturization, scanning causes it to perceive a sequence of gestures, marks, or just Morse code.


In this paper, we extrapolate the evolution of mobile devices in one specific direction, namely miniaturization. While we maintain the concept of a device that people are aware of and interact with intentionally, we envision that this concept can become small enough to allow invisible integration into arbitrary surfaces or human skin, and thus truly ubiquitous use. This outcome assumed, we investigate what technology would be most likely to provide the basis for these devices, what abilities such devices can be expected to have, and whether or not devices that size can still allow for meaningful interaction. We survey candidate technologies, drill down on gesture-based interaction, and demonstrate how it can be adapted to the desired form factors. While the resulting devices offer only the bare minimum in feedback and only the most basic interactions, we demonstrate that simple applications remain possible. We complete our exploration with two studies in which we investigate the affordance of these devices more concretely, namely marking and text entry using a gesture alphabet.


Ni, T. and Baudisch, P.
Disappearing Mobile Devices.
In Proceedings of UIST'09, pp. 101-110.
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