Future of Entertainment: Introduction to Biometric Inputs

Future of Entertainment: Introduction to Biometric Inputs

The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts.

Up until six years ago, your touchscreen usage was limited at best. Back then, screens were for the eyes only and all touching would get you were unsightly smudges. That was before the iPhone and other touch enabled devices hit the market. Today, we we rely on touch technology so much that it’s difficult to remember how we ever got along without it in the first place. These point and touch protocols not only eliminated the need for peripherals like keyboards and mice, but changed our relationship with technology altogether. Our learned computing behaviors were suddenly replaced by something much more intuitive, creating a whole new set of interactions that were accessible to everyone.

As we circle back around to the first theme from our Future of Entertainment series, Everywhere Interface, we’re going to take a look at a new frontier for interface control that has the potential to once again revolutionize the way we use our devices. This week’s trend, Biometric Inputs, explores the ways in which technology is being developed to respond to much more innate and natural forms of human control and gesture like eye movements and even brain waves.

Always keeping one eye on the future, electronics manufacturer Samsung is currently toying with the idea of controlling computers with the human brain. The Korean-based company is exploring the usefulness of such inputs, experimenting with a form of mind control to interface with tablets and computers.

The technology is still in its infancy, but, according to an article from MIT Technology Review, participants are already able to open apps, pinpoint specific contacts from a list and select songs from a playlist using the power of their minds. Nothing is perfect, and as of now, the technology still has some major hurdles to overcome before it makes it to the mass market. For one, a cap covered in EEG-monitoring electrodes needs to be worn before any ‘thought control’ can take place, making users look more like Doc Brown from Back to the Future than Professor X. Another obstacle is that users are only able to make selections on the tablet about once every 4 to 5 seconds. While some users experience faster response rates than others, this relatively slow turnaround time can’t keep pace with the demands of most people’s computing sessions. 

Though still a ways off, Samsung’s lead researcher on the project, Insoo Kim, believes that biometric inputs are the future. In a recent interview with Technology Review he said, “Several years ago, a small keypad was the only input modality to control the phone, but nowadays the user can use voice, touch, gesture, and eye movement to control and interact with mobile devices. Adding more input modalities will provide us with more convenient and richer ways of interacting with mobile devices.”

Just this year, Samsung included a feature in their Galaxy S4 smartphone that used the device’s front-facing camera to track your eyes, letting you scroll just by tilting your head up or down. Similarly, another on of the device’s features, called Smart Pause, knows when a person has turned their head away from the screen and automatically pauses any the video that’s playing at the time. 

Even Apple is rumored to be jumping on the biometric bandwagon with a recent patent filing that showed the technology company is, at the very least, flirting with the idea of introducing a fingerprint reader to its ecosystem of devices. While the most obvious application for a fingerprint sensor is for security, only time will tell if the Cupertino-based company has thought up any other uses for the tech. These relatively simple protocols help to make our technologies more personal and responsive, while opening up a new realm of potential interactions and experiences.

As we continue to cover the Biometric Inputs trend this week, we’ll be looking at the next generation of natural human controls that are changing our relationship with our devices. In our next post, we’ll be highlighting the latest developments in gesture-based interactions and exploring the new entertainment experiences they’ll enable. Stay tuned to iQ by Intel and PSFK for daily updates to our Future of Entertainment series.

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