Patrick Baudisch and his fellow designers at Potsdam’s Hasso Plattner Institute have created a prototype of a floor that uses pressure-sensing technology to recognize people by their weight, track their movements through a room, display video, and interact with other objects in the room. For example, “[I]f someone sits on the floor, the system recognises who they are by their precise weight and flips a TV on to their favourite channel.” The floor, called GravitySpace, consists of a slab of glass surrounded by infrared LEDs and coated with a pressure-sensitive film. It’s installed above an infrared camera and a video projector, and a linked computer receives and generates the appropriate data and images.
What’s the Big Idea?
A “smart floor” is just another example of how “computer interfaces [are becoming] more sensitive to people’s needs,” says New York University’s Ken Perlin. The device could be especially useful to elderly or disabled people, taking medical alert systems to an entirely different level. Baudisch and his team will present GravitySpace at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in April.