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Hardware Devices

Working on peripheral devices that hang on the wall or fit in your shirt pocket, and generally take computing off the desktop

Hardware Devices


Our goal is to understand the “nuts and bolts” of ubiquitous computing by providing devices that will connect users more intimately, naturally, and efficiently with their computing environment.

We’re working on devices which will allow you to use novel forms of input, such as a gesture, a wink, a voice command, or a pen. We’re also exploring new ways to use the keyboard, for instance, sliders set between the keypads of a split keyboard that will give you the ability to scroll or move around the document without lifting your hands to grab your mouse. We’ve researched motion detectors that can increase type size when you move your head closer to the screen or rotate a graphic when you turn your head from side-to-side.

We’re building micro-devices using MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS). These devices, which may be as small as a human hair, will help us discover how to build cheaper flat-panel displays with high resolution. We want displays to become as unobtrusive as wallpaper. We are particularly interested in how the physical attributes of a display device affect display quality.

We are researching low-power portable or wearable devices that interface with traditional computing environments. We’re building sensors to track and respond to user activities in order to build interfaces that require little or no attention from the wearer.

Our group works under the guiding principle that advances in user interfaces and other software driven technology are driven by advances in hardware. We are striving to understand the potential of hardware so that software can empower customers by using all the capabilities of future systems.


MEMS. MicroElectroMechanicalSystems (MEMS) integrates electrical and mechanical components and can range in size from micrometers to millimeters. This technology makes it possible to produce large numbers of micro-scaled sensors and actuators that can be placed in small spaces, such as inside automobile airbags, interface devices or living organisms. We are experimenting with low-voltage actuators to build portable user interfaces.

Displays. We are building a laser display using MEMS that will allow us to explore low-cost displays. Our approach combines a solid-state laser, lens arrays and micro-mirrors to form modules that could be tiled together to form any size display. We are also concerned with understanding the characteristics of displays. We measure and test displays in our lab, with the goal of optimizing software for display quality. Our work with wide-aspect displays will help us understand how they change the desktop experience for users. Read more about displays in "This is your web on the wall".

Novel Input Devices and Sensors. We are developing input devices and sensors that will provide users with the ability to manipulate objects and visualizations, and to support our user modeling work. Ongoing projects include extending mouse and keyboard with touch sensors enabling systems to sense contact from the user's hands.

Fun Stuff

Mike and Jeremy's MEMS projects (PowerPoint)
Gary's scanned display devices (PowerPoint)


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