Head-mounted interface use cases on show by Docomo at CEATEC 2013


As a part of their research into wearable computing, Docomo are working with the possibility of pairing smartphones with head-mounted interfaces. At CEATEC 2013, they demonstrated a variety of situations where this technology could be utilized in the future.

"If someone suddenly hands you an optical head-mounted display type device, you might not understand how to use it. So, we'd like to show people specific ways of using such devices. The first concept I'll show you is called Hands-Free Movies. Here, you wear the glasses as an external display for your smartphone. Ordinarily, if you watch a long movie on a smartphone, your hand gets tired from holding up the phone. But with a head-mounted display, you can watch long movies with your hands free. Also, if the glasses have a camera attached, it can be used to recognize faces. So, if you see someone you've met before, their name can be displayed. Or if you're traveling overseas and come across a menu you can't read, the glasses can show you a translation."

Another idea that Docomo is working with is that people might wear such devices for long periods of time. In that case, as user interfaces, Docomo are suggesting the Variable Interface and the Space Interface.

"The Variable Interface shows a virtual image when you put the glasses on, but you don't really know where to touch. In that case, our basic approach is to display the virtual image on an actual notebook and you can touch that. What's happening is, the camera in the glasses identifies the area taken up by the notebook, and the acceleration sensor in the ring detects your touch."

If the menu reduces in size in line with the size of the displayable area, it may become difficult to use, so this interface shows a menu which can adapt to the size of the object on which it is being projected. So, a feature of the Variable Interface is that it can do processing that makes it seem as if your regular notebook is a tablet.

"The Space Interface is based on the idea that, to manipulate a virtual picture, using your hands is the most intuitive way. So, the camera detects the movement of your hands, and you can manipulate the virtual picture in ways that are firmly based on physical phenomena. If you take the bear's hand, and move your hand up and down, the bear's hand moves along with yours. Such realistic interactions are a feature of the Space Interface. We think it will probably be used for amusement applications, but as another possibility, this could be used as an interface for collaborative work, where several people share the same space while they're wearing the glasses."

"These ideas are still at the R&D stage, so we can't say when they'll become practical. But we think that, first of all, showing people such possibilities is one important role of R&D."

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