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Planar Manipulator Display

The Planar Manipulator Display is a novel input/output device that enables simultaneous planar movement and sensing of multiple physical objects. The underlying hypothesis is that interaction mediated by computer-controlled objects will improve understanding and collaboration in many types of simulations for which screen-based interaction is not optimal.

Innovation
The core innovation is a practical method for controlling and sensing the planar motion of many objects simultaneously. The high "frame rate" of the sensing scheme enables control-system computation to be localized in a central processor, while still allowing vehicles to move rapidly. Computation is not performed on the vehicle, so very inexpensive processors (~ $0.50) can be used, which significantly reduces per-vehicle costs.

Sample PC applications, including a control-and-display application for debugging, have been developed, along with an example behavioral simulation. The main question now is how these technical solutions contribute to the fitness of the larger system design and, in turn, enable exploration of a new approach to computer-human interaction.

Vision
This project is situated within a larger research agenda for improved human/computer interaction. Wide availability of human-centric, computer-mediated active manipulation of objects has the potential to lead to fundamental improvements in the ways people use computers for problem solving and cooperative planning.

Follow-on research will ask psychologists to evaluate use of this device. Their insights will inform efforts to develop improved models for human/computer interaction that are better attuned to human proprioceptive abilities.

As the cost of this technology continues to declilne, it will gain widespread use in the home as a platform for entertainment, games, and toys. This approach to human/computer interaction also has potential to empower individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Goal
The goal of this project is to develop a practical, flexible and low-cost planar manipulator display that can simultaneously move many physical objects upon a surface under computer control and sense user-motion of those objects. In addition, the project tests the hypothesis that interaction mediated by such a device will improve understanding and collaboration in many types of simulations.

Should this hypothesis prove correct, these devices should be broadly affordable and applicable to the widest possible set of problems. Towards this end, the emphasis here is on scalability, practicality, and low cost.

Contact
Dan Rosenfeld
New York University Media Research Lab
danr@cat.nyu.edu

Contributors
Ken Perlin
Michael Zawadzki
New York University Media Research Lab




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