Your body becomes a keyboard – University of Copenhagen

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18 March 2015

Your body becomes a keyboard

CCC researcher Kasper Hornbæk has received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for a project on how to improve the use of the body as a means of interaction with a computer. The grant amounts to approx. EUR 1.9m.

Kasper is a professor at the Department of Computer Science (DIKU), and he will head the project called Using Embodied Cognition to Create the Next Generations of Body-based User Interfaces. The team of researchers will use results and methods from research on embodied cognition to study and improve how users can interact with computers using only their body.

In much interaction, the traditional keyboard or mouse is the connecting link between the user and the computer. In recent years, however, a growing number of new devices have made it possible to interact with a computer without pushing buttons or moving a cursor with a mouse. Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo Wii are among the best known examples of how a computer can use gestures in mid-air as input. 

There are, however, also more serious fields of application within the sub field of interaction design called Body-based User Interfaces. The Vulture project, which received quite a lot of publicity in 2014, was a precursor of the ERC project. In the project, researchers from DIKU succeeded in making text entry possible merely by drawing words as gestures in the air in front of the user.

We know very little about how to design for interaction using the body, says Kasper Hornbæk: all our theories and design principles are about screens, mice and touch. For this reason, he will draw on recent results from cognitive science and psychology on how to understand the connection between the use of the body, mental activity and emotions. I believe we can achieve a breakthrough here, given that there is no research that uses these results to drive work on human-computer interaction, Kasper points out.  

The project will start up after the summer holidays and will run for the next five years.