Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New ways for people with disabilities to control devices

Now here's something to really shake your bones about - literally! NewScientistTech reports that researchers Lin Zhong and Michael Liebschner at Rice University in Houston, Texas, want to use the human skeleton to transmit commands reliably and securely to wearable gadgets and medical implants. Their research, the report says, could also lead to new ways for people with disabilities to control devices such as computers and PDAs:

Wireless radio signals are already used to control gadgets and implants, but these can suffer interference from Wi-Fi and other sources. This makes them unreliable and, in the case of medical implants, potentially dangerous. They can also be hacked by anyone with an antenna, Liebschner points out.

So the Rice team decided to investigate using sound instead of radio waves. Bone is known to be a great conductor of sound, but so far it has only been used to transmit analogue signals in applications such as checking how bone is healing after a fracture, and in hearing aids that transmit sound from outside the skull to the auditory nerve.

This is worth a read, over at 'Bones could allow data swaps via handshake'


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