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Lumen: Interactive Visual and Shape Display for Calm Computing
Lumen is an interactive display that presents visual images and physical, moving shapes, both controlled independently. The smooth, organic physical motions provide aesthetically pleasing, calm displays for ambient computing environments. Users interact with Lumen directly, forming shapes and images with their hands.

Life Enhancement
There is something magical and emotionally engaging in smooth, slow physical motions, such as waves of the sea or the motion of grass in the wind. The word "organic" perhaps most closely defines them. Lumen delivers such slow, organic animations, creating calm, emotionally pleasing shape and image displays for future living environments.

Lumen's ambient, calm computing environment is ideal for presenting minimal information unobtrusively. Though the current system is small, Lumen can be easily scaled up to create larger surfaces embedded into walls, furniture, and ceilings, and it can become invisible when it is not needed.

Physical shape can be very expressive in communicating between human and machine: using the same image but different physical motions can create a very different "feel of the data." Users interact with Lumen by simply moving their fingers over its surface. They can also interact with each other by touching hands in Lumen's asynchronous image and shape display.

As new actuators and "artificial muscle" technologies are developed, Lumen could be used to create wall-size, low-power, inexpensive displays for home and office interiors or architecture. It will allow users to present information in a simple, aesthetically pleasing, yet efficient way, creating a new layer of information devices for ubiquitous computing environments. Lumen technology could also be used to create virtual controls: buttons and sliders that are formed dynamically.

This project has three main goals:

1. Alternative information displays
For many applications, a small amount of information is sufficient, and Lumen-type devices can be very effective.

2. New communication experiences
Controlled physical motion is a very attractive technique for creating communication links. It can allow two people to touch each other over the network, to see and feel the shapes of each other's hands.

3. Novel human-machine interaction
Physical shape can be very expressive in communicating between human and machine. Using the same image but different physical motions allows creation of a very different "feel of the data" with very low-resolution images.

The entire Lumen device is custom made; it cannot be simply assembled from the off-the-shelf components. Designing Lumen was a challenge because it is intended for home use, so it must be compact and noiseless, actuation should be smooth and continuous, and users must be able to interact with the device directly, without using any external input devices.

Adding interactivity was another innovation. A custom-made Smart Skin sensor was built into the surface of the Lumen to recognize shapes and fingers. It can also feel the user's motions. It calculates the distance between the hand and the surface by using capacitive sensing and a mesh-shaped antenna made of simple copper wire. Smart Skin is perfect for Lumen because all sensing elements can be integrated within the surface of the device, and unlike camera techniques, it does not suffer from lighting and occlusion.

Tuesday, 10 August
10:30 - 12:15 pm
Room 404AB

Ivan Poupyrev
Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Tatsushi Nashida
Sony Design Center

Shigeaki Maruyama
Microdevice Center, Sony EMCS

Yasufumi Yamaji
Sony Design Center

emerging technologies jury and committee
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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA