Georgia Tech to Exhibit the Future of Computer-Human Interaction

Designers attending the university's Wearable Technology Symposium will demonstrate how they're turning garment-tech fancies into realities.

by Bo Emerson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / May 6, 2015
At the symposium, Ph.D. candidate James Hallam will demonstrate his set of “haptic” gloves that help victims rehabilitate arms weakened by lateral damage. YouTube/Interactive Product Design Lab at Georgia Tech
(TNS) -- Shoes that can teach you how to dance.

Gloves that bring strength to a stroke victim’s weakened hand.

A dress that can double as a video screen.

Call these wearables, the future of the growing world of computer-human interaction. The science is in its infancy, but, as processors become smaller and more powerful, we will stop carrying them and start wearing them, a la Google Glass, Fitbit and the Apple Watch.

At Georgia Tech, students and faculty members are imagining a world of interactive computing, and designers are making those fancies into realities.

The shoes, the gloves, the dress and other devices will be demonstrated and discussed Friday and Saturday during Georgia Tech’s Wearable Technology Symposium.

Representatives from Intel, Samsung, Clothing Plus, User Insight, InReality, Formation Design and others will be in attendance. Georgia Tech industry partner Sparkfun will lead a workshop that challenges participants to complete a wearable garment prototype in under six hours.

Among the presenters will be Tech graduate Emily Keen, 25, who devoted her master’s thesis in Industrial Design to creating the Smart Ballet Shoe, which provides “tactile” feedback to the dancer, indicating proper balance, alignment and weight distribution.

A dancer who trained at the Atlanta Ballet Center for Dance Education, Keen also developed Ballet Hero, a device that helps teachers demonstrate movements by breaking them into “key frames.” The teacher wears a garment fitted with conductive thread and LED lights, which helps simplify complex sequences in the same way that the popular video game Guitar Hero simplifies guitar solos.

Ph.D. candidate James Hallam will demonstrate his own device, a set of “haptic” gloves that help victims rehabilitate arms weakened by lateral damage. Stroke typically affects one side of the body but not the other. Using haptic or tactile feedback, the gloves prompt the weakened hand to copy the strong hand on a series of exercises.

Hallam will demonstrate a prototype and, he said, “I’m working on getting gloves suitable for an early trial.”

Many of the devices employ “soft circuit” technology, using conductive nylon thread wrapped in microns-thick stainless steel. The results are clothes that can plug into a power source, but — once unplugged — are indeed hand-washable.

©2015 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.