When we communicate face to face, we subconsciously engage our whole body to convey our message. In telecommunication, e.g. during phone calls, this powerful information channel cannot be used. Capturing nonverbal information from body motion and transmitting it to the receiver parallel to speech would make these conversations feel much more natural. This requires a sensing device that is capable of capturing different types of movements, such as the flexion and extension of joints, and the rotation of limbs. In a first embodiment, we developed a sensing glove that is used to control a computer game. Capacitive dielectric elastomer (DE) sensors measure finger positions, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) detects hand roll. These two sensor technologies complement each other, with the IMU allowing the player to move an avatar through a three-dimensional maze, and the DE sensors detecting finger flexion to fire weapons or open doors. After demonstrating the potential of sensor fusion in human-computer interaction, we take this concept to the next level and apply it in nonverbal communication between humans. The current fingerspelling glove prototype uses capacitive DE sensors to detect finger gestures performed by the sending person. These gestures are mapped to corresponding messages and transmitted wirelessly to another person. A concept for integrating an IMU into this system is presented. The fusion of the DE sensor and the IMU combines the strengths of both sensor types, and therefore enables very comprehensive body motion sensing, which makes a large repertoire of gestures available to nonverbal communication over distances.
Andreas Tairych, Daniel Xu, Benjamin M. O'Brien, and Iain A. Anderson, "Non-verbal communication through sensor fusion," Proc. SPIE 9798, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2016, 97982D (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 24, 2016; Published: 15 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2219421.
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