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Input Devices IT

MIT Researchers Create a Cheap "6th Sense" Device 125

Posted by timothy
from the it-will-tickle-your-fancy-if-you-tell-it-to dept.
thefickler writes "MIT researchers have combined a mobile projector with a webcam and mobile phone to create a device that draws information from the environment. For example, the gadget recognizes products on store shelves and can provide product and price comparison information. The sixth-sense device was cobbled together from common parts costing just $300. While the gadget is not being primed for mass release, it represents a forward-thinking way of blending technology with our environment."
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MIT Researchers Create a Cheap "6th Sense" Device

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  • Eyetap... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GenP (686381) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:19PM (#26745705)
    Needs more EyeTap [].
  • by mrbene (1380531) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:34PM (#26745905)

    At the heart of the device is a smartphone that uses an Internet connection to retrieve information.

    Further analysis shows that the heart is actually a team of codemonkeys madly devoting all waking hours to understand the hundreds of different data formats needed to supply even the most basic integration.

    Seriously tho, the main cost to developing this would be getting integrated with all the different potential data providers. Recognizing a physical bar code is easy. Looking up the current price at nearby retailers? More difficult.

  • by topham (32406) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @07:48PM (#26746057) Homepage

    Ok, I'm getting seriously disappointed with slashdot. A story about a webcam, cellphone and automatically look up crap online? Fine. The technical aspects are interesting; but sixth-sense slant? Kill it before it breeds.

    I have a god-damn cellphone with camera and internet and I don't think it's a sixth-sense feature when i use it to look something up. COME ON; it isn't 1971!

  • by jbloggs (535329) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @08:08PM (#26746285)
    it it clear that you have no idea what this device is actually doing, but since the article was so bad i'm not suprised. i, on the other hand, am at the media lab and have seen it in action. it makes the entire world around you a touch-sensitive device that can be digitally interacted and augmented with.
  • Re:Well I'm stoked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by evanbd (210358) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @08:08PM (#26746287)

    My brother and I built one of those []. Scroll down to the comments, there are pictures and a description of the circuit. It's not as sophisticated as the MIT one, but it definitely works.

    That, or an implanted magnet to sense EM fields, constitute a "6th sense" imo. Not this.

    (If there's interest, I could be convinced to create a digital version of the schematic and a more complete circuit description with parts list, etc.)

  • Re:Minor pet peeve (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpilot (134227) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @08:28PM (#26746473) Homepage Journal

    I read an article in the past year about a different "sixth sense" experiment. They made a belt of cellphone-type vibrators, then controlled them such that the northmost vibrator was activated. In essence a built-in compass. Subjects quit noticing the vibration after a few days. Within a few weeks, they had "perfect direction," and it wasn't just the ability to point north, or any other particular direction. Their sense of distance, position, etc, were all much better. The big point of the experiment was to see if an adult brain could internalize and integrate the new information source.

    It could.

    I want one.

    Though it occasionally abandons me, I generally have a very good sense of direction. Let me study a map, get oriented, and I can usually get you there. I can usually give bearing and distance to an arbitrary destination in the general area. But I'd like my sense of direction to be PERFECT. (or darned close to it)

    Incidentally, the effects persisted for several weeks after the device was removed.

    There's also talk about a magnetic grain embedded in the heads of some animals. They've studied the grain, and found that it's the largest size that can naturally be a single magnetic domain. Smaller, and it gives less "signal". Larger, and it splits into multiple domains, and again gives less signal. Sounds like a natural magnetic compass to me. Maybe there's a little bit of residual prewiring in the human brain for such a directional sense, which is why the vibrator belt experiment worked so well.

  • Re:Minor pet peeve (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <> on Thursday February 05, 2009 @08:42PM (#26746611) Homepage Journal

    Maybe there's a little bit of residual prewiring in the human brain for such a directional sense, which is why the vibrator belt experiment worked so well.

    I think it's mostly that humans already have a built-in mechanism for dead-reckoning, which is enhanced when we get something to give us additional external cues. Humans generally keep track of which way is north, but it can get out of whack over time.

    I can actually fool my dead-reckoning sense by lying in my bed with my eyes closed and rolling my body over my head, somersault-style. If I don't open my eyes, it feels like I've flipped the bed around in my room. If I open my eyes, the effect immediately vanishes and my direction is restored.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @08:51PM (#26746697)

    Seriously, so much effort goes into creating devices for comparison shopping when you are in a store, but the store rarely if ever has the best price. If it's a small purchase (e.g., a book), you can decide if it's worth $5 to buy it in person instead of Amazon without having to look it up. If it's a big purchase, you better be comparison shopping before you go. Okay, maybe there's some value to having online reviews available of books while you are browsing in the store, but how long before B&N or Borders offer that service themselves?

  • Re:Well I'm stoked (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2009 @09:55PM (#26747179)

    That, or an implanted magnet to sense EM fields, constitute a "6th sense" imo. Not this.

    I see you mention an implanted magnet. There was an article here on /. a couple years ago now I believe it was where some guy had done just that.

    Implanted a small rare earth element magnet into his finger that allowed him to feel EM fields. I forget if it was the index or ring finger. Pretty weird if you ask me.

  • Tricorder? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iamangry (1463943) on Thursday February 05, 2009 @11:37PM (#26747865)
    This sort of technology seems to be the first step towards a tricorder... albeit a primitive one designed to help you be a "better" consumer. Now they just need to add this into a visor (like the ones you can plug into your ipod or whatever), and you'd have a HUD.
  • Re:umm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by some guy I know (229718) on Friday February 06, 2009 @06:32AM (#26749877) Homepage

    sight, hearing, touch, feel, taste, comparison shop? This isn't a sixth sense, no matter how you spin it.

    Actually, humans have quite a few senses other than the five commonly described; it's just that most of them are internal (sense of hunger, etc.).
    One that is external, and sometimes called the "sixth sense", is the sense of balance.

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