Prof. Dr. Patrick Baudisch

Interactive Systems Based on Electrical Muscle Stimulation

In this line of research (since 2013), we investigate how users might interact with devices smaller than mobile or wearable devices. We argue that to achieve the intended minimal form-factor such devices will leverage the user's body as an input and output device. Users will not interact with the device but instead will interact through one of their limbs, which they share with the computer as the interface.

We present six research projects and one art piece, in which these wearable devices actuate the user's limbs by means of electrical muscle stimulation and are perceived through the body (proprioception). We explored two main benefits of these EMS-based devices: (1) supporting realism by simulating forces in Virtual Reality and (2) rendering information directly to the proprioceptive sense, opening up new modalities for I/O devices.

1. EMS allows for realistic haptics for VR/AR/mobile at wearable form factor:

Lopes, P., You, S., Cheng, L., Marwecki, S., and Baudisch, P.
Providing Haptics to Walls and Other Heavy Objects in Virtual Reality by Means of Electrical Muscle Stimulation.
In Proceedings of CHI'17. 
 PDF |  Slides (coming soon)  Slides (coming soon)   |  Video (youtube) Talk Video (coming soon)

Lopes, P. and Baudisch, P. 
Muscle-propelled force feedback: bringing force feedback to mobile devices. In Proceedings of CHI 2013, pp. 2577-2580. 

 PDF (6.8MB) |  Slides (118.8MB) |  Slides (PDF, 107MB) |  Video  Talk Video

2. rendering information in the user's proprioception using EMS:

Lopes, P.Jonell, P.Baudisch, P.
Affordance++: allowing objects to communicate dynamic use
In Proc. CHI'15. pp. 2515-2524.
 PDF (3.7MB) |  Slides (19.6MB)  PDF (PDF, 33.2MB) |  Video |  Talk Video 


For the ACM UIST Student Innovation Contest 2016 we provided student teams with openEMSstim, an open-source hardware module that aids researchers in easily exploring Electrical Muscle Stimulation. This was one of the most competitive UIST SIC to date, with 53 submissions and 20 accepted teams that demonstrated on EMS-based prototypes at the conference.

openEMSstim: sharing EMS with the research community

The openEMSstim is a hardware board based on an Arduino Nano that modulates the amplitude of EMS signals. Designed after the EMS Toolkit by the Leibniz University of Hannover, includes modifications done for the ACM UIST SIC 2016. The code and hardware design are also fully open source.

Here you also find the software that communicates with the board and controls it (android, unity, etc). This board is controllable via Bluetooth and compatible with any BLE device you have (such as your smartphone). 

Artistic reflection on machines controlling humans

Ad infinitum: a parasite that lives off human energy

Ad infinitum is a parasitical entity which lives off human energy. It lives untethered and off the grid. This parasite reverses the dominant role that mankind has with respect to technologies: the parasite shifts humans from “users” to “used”. Ad infinitum co-exists in our world by parasitically attaching electrodes onto the human visitors and harvesting their kinetic energy by electrically persuading them to move their muscles. The only way a visitor can be freed is by seducing another visitor to sit on the opposite chair and take their place.

Ad Infinitum is an artwork by Pedro Lopes, Robert Kovacs, Alexandra Ion, David Lindlbauer, and Patrick Baudisch. It has been shown at: