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Interactive Systems Technical Design. Seminar work: Sensing & Sensors Hannu Kaski Jukka-Pekka Laitinen Miika Vahtola. Introduction 1/4. Sensing Webster: “To perceive by the senses, to detect automatically especially in a response to physical stimulus”

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interactive systems technical design

Interactive Systems Technical Design

Seminar work: Sensing & Sensors

Hannu Kaski

Jukka-Pekka Laitinen

Miika Vahtola

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

introduction 1 4
Introduction 1/4


  • Webster: “To perceive by the senses, to detect automatically especially in a response to physical stimulus”
  • Way to achieve knowledge of the world (temperature, force, acceleration…)
  • Human senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste
  • Vision usually seen as the primary sense and hearing secondary
  • Exceptions to general rules like blindness or deafness
  • Touch can also be important when interacting with systems
    • Haptic systems - systems that use touch (haptic feedback) e.g. force feedback joysticks
  • Smell and taste generally ignored within computer interfaces

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

introduction 2 4
Introduction 2/4
  • Human sensing capability in active touch
    • Differences
      • Length and velocity 10%
      • Acceleration 20%
      • Force 7%
      • Mass 21%
      • Viscosity 14%
    • Resolution
      • Pressure 0,03 N/cm2
      • Transient temperature 0,05 ºC
      • Skin displacement 20 micro meters
      • Surface texture 0,1 micro meters

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

introduction 3 4
Introduction 3/4
  • Tactile user interface is one type of sensing oriented UIs (Webster defines tactile: “of or relating the sense of touch” )
    • Interface which can be controlled by touching and may give tactile output
      • Input
        • Handheld / tablet computers
        • Computer input devices
        • Information kiosks (touch screens)
      • Output
        • Vibrator alarms (cell phones, pagers)
        • Force Feedback (Entertainment applications e.g. game controllers, robotic surgery)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

introduction 4 4
Introduction 4/4


  • Webster: “A device that responds to a physical stimulus (as heat, light, sound, pressure, magnetism, or a particular motion) and transmits a resulting impulse (as for measurements or operating a control)”
  • Comprised of two basic parts - a sensing element and a transducer
  • Contact/contactless sensing
  • Sensors + signal processing and logic (AI) enable “sensing” in machine domain
  • Nowadays sensors have integrated microcontrollers
  • Sensor technologies are rapidly evolving
    • Drivers: miniaturization, cost, processing power, power consumption factors
    • In particular the fact that sensors are vital technology enablers for new applications

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

human vs machine characteristics related to sensing

Problem Complexity: Human vs. Machine

Object recognition


Extraction of Relevant Features from Sensor Arrays



Maximum Potential Benefit










Human vs. Machine Characteristics related to sensing

© Thad Roppel from Auburn University

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

  • Sensors are vital technology enablers for new applications
    • When applied in a right way they will probably ease your everyday life (e.g. intelligent environments)
  • Context-aware computing
    • “Perception without the context of action is meaningless”
      • Sensors enable context-awareness (sensor fusion important)
  • Ubiquitous and pervasive computing
  • Usability of those devices that can “sense” may be better, because sensors enable a more sophisticated user interaction
    • Possibly better user experience

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

  • Humans and computers “sense” differently
    • Machines can only emulate real sensing (i.e. human) with the help of different kind of sensors, signal processing, microcontrollers and logic
  • OBJECTIVE: To intelligently integrate multiple sensors and multiple sensor modalities (i.e. sensor fusion) to serve the needs of Human-Computer Interaction
    • More natural and intuitive interaction between humans and computer
    • “Smart interaction” usually requires a network of sensors working in concert
    • Remember to keep in mind that systems should be build for people not vice versa
      • Natural interaction as a design paradigm when possible

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

sensor selection 1 of 2
Sensor selection 1 of 2
  • According to there are 1022 sensor manufacturers and tens of sensor categories
  • Excellent source of sensor related information:
  • Capacitance sensors (based on charge sensing)
    • Cheap, simple, no calibration
    • Enables touch (position) and proximity sensing
    • Some issues that should be noticed when implementing:
      • Good quality ground reference
      • Low impedance connections
      • Keep connections short and of low inductance
      • Stop ringing by adding a series resistor
  • Photoelectric sensors (color sensing, lasers for distance sensing)
    • Reliable, versatile
    • Able to sense objects of almost any material, size and shape

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

sensor selection 2 of 2
Sensor selection 2 of 2
  • Other sensor categories
    • Acceleration & speed
    • Acoustic (e.g. ultrasonic sensors)
    • Displacement & motion
    • Force, pressure & tension
    • Light (e.g. IR)
    • Position & tilt
    • Presense & proximity
    • RF
    • Temperature & humidity
    • Torque & vibration
    • Optical imaging based sensors (e.g. cameras)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

how to sense using sensors sense model think act loop

measure involts, amps, ohms,henrys, farads, etc.


transduce perception to electrical signal

convert fromsignal to symbol



e n v i r o n m e n t


compute control action

transduce signal toheat, displacement,illumination, etc

convert fromsymbol to signal


How to ’sense’ using sensors:Sense-Model/Think-Act Loop

© Mel Siegel from CMU

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

how to implement
How to implement?
  • STEPS to systematize the sensing process:
    • Decomposition of relevant context information acquired by sensors
      • Model of discrete facts and quantitative measurements
    • Build a system based on some sensor fusion system architecture (below is one example)

© Mel Siegel from CMU

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

usual requirements for an implementation
Usual requirements for an implementation
  • Small & lightweight

-> miniaturization (HDP/ASIC/MEMS)

  • Reliable
  • Information security
  • Biocompatibility
  • Low power consumption
  • Shock proof
  • Low cost

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors



Proactive Furniture Assembly

By Stavros Antifakos, Florian Michahelles and Bernt Schiele

from ETH Zurich

A subproject of the Smart-Its Project that is funded in part by the Commission of the European Union and the Swiss Federal Office for Education and Science


ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

application introduction
Application Introduction
  • an experimental case study with the IKEA PAX wardrobe
  • PROBLEM: The presentation of plans by today's instructions is neither sufficient nor satisfying
  • 3 usage modes were identified: Full-walk-through, Assistance-on-demand and Rescue-from-trap
  • OBJECTIVE: To develop Proactive Instructions for Furniture Assembly

-> better usability of instructions

  • Chosen approach was to immerse instructions into the objects of interest (i.e. parts of a wardrobe)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

ikea s assembly instructions
IKEA’s assembly instructions

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

assembly actions and possible sensor configurations to perceive the action
Assembly actions and possible sensor configurations to perceive the action

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

detection of actions
Detection of actions
  • Simple Markov chains were designed for each action
  • States and state transition probabilities were modeled by hand -> investigations to use Hidden Markov Models in order to train those probabilities automatically are currently ongoing

force sensor

screwdriver (gyroscope)


ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

  • Precision vs. cost (sensors aren’t free)
    • Cheapest and most unobtrusive sensor configuration enabling a high recognition precision should be the goal
  • How to inform the user (assembler) about the next steps to be taken?
    • Parts giving notice (flashing leds, beeping)
    • Guidance through a PDA/wearable computer/smart phone (should be avoided)
  • Closed world assumption narrows down the possible applications
    • we have to be able to fully model all tasks

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

other applications 1 of 4
Other applications 1 of 4
  • Applications needing
    • Proximity sensing
    • Presense detection
    • Position sensing
    • New control interfaces etc.
  • Automotive
    • Controls and lighting
    • Safety -> Electronic Stability Program, Acceleration Skid Control, Brake Assistant, Anti-lock Braking system
    • Alarms and entry access controls
  • Computers
    • Peripheral, mouse and joystick controls
    • Tactile input/output devices (force feedback, in-keyboard ‘mouse’)
  • Handheld devices (PDAs, phones etc.)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

other applications 2 of 4
Other applications 2 of 4
  • Biomedical/Biometrics
    • Health care, personal fitness
      • Wearable, personal health systems like AMON
        • bio-sensors (pulse, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, body temperature, skin perspiration, ECG)
      • Robotic surgery (with PHANTOM™-like products)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

other applications 3 of 4
Other applications 3 of 4
  • Smart environments (e.g. home, office)
      • Access controls
      • Room light switches, remote controllers (no push buttons)
      • Appliance controls (A/V & kitchen)
      • Hidden controls and alarms (in walls, furniture)
      • Object sensing (e.g. sense when somebody touches something they shouldn't)
      • Human presence sensing (e.g. automated lights and doors)
      • Hand-wave controls -> Make objects sense (e.g. automatic faucet, power-ups)
  • Wearable computing

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

other applications 4 of 4
Other applications 4 of 4
  • Disability/elderly Aids
    • electronic assistance devices
      • reduce need for pressure or pull strength
  • Safety
    • Tool auto-shutoff (dead-man switches)
    • Child detection in unsafe areas
    • Intrusion detection
  • Security
    • 'Smart Objects' - arbitrary objects

as 'smart cards' (e.g. RFID)

  • Toys
    • Dolls, SONY’s Aibo, LEGO MindStorms

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

strengths advantages 1 of 2
Strengths / Advantages 1 of 2
  • More natural interaction, unobtrusiveness and zero activation force
    • Flexible form factors
    • Better user experience and usability
  • More intuitive usage
    • Faster and easier to learn
  • Sensors can provide/acquire information not possible to perceive by human senses
    • HC interaction may work better than human-human interaction in some aspects (e.g. machines try to serve you proactively)
    • People can acquire additional information (e.g. health state)

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

strengths advantages 2 of 2
Strengths / Advantages 2 of 2
  • Eases the life of people with disabilities
  • When deployed well, will make life easier, more comfortable and safer

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

limitations weaknesses 1 of 2
Limitations / Weaknesses 1 of 2
  • Context-understanding is challenging
    • Integration of sensors is demanding because sensed information may have overlaps or even conflicts
    • Sensor fusion techniques (AI algorithms)
  • Decrease in user’s intentional control
    • Need for profiles
  • Increase in SW inferential burden
  • Fail decisions
    • Effect on user acceptance
  • Sensors don’t work in all conditions
    • Temperature, humidity, EMC and calibration issues

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

limitations weaknesses 2 of 2
Limitations / Weaknesses 2 of 2
  • Accuracy vs. Cost
    • MEMS technology enables SoC implementations that are cheaper
  • Noise and bandwidth
    • Local processing of sensor data decreases bandwidth requirements
    • Better noise filtering techniques
  • Limited power supply
    • Processing of sensor data needs power

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

selected industrial players
Selected Industrial Players
  • Microsoft Corp. – Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer
  • Quantum Research Group – QTouch™& QMatrix™
  • SensAble Technologies Inc. –PHANTOM™
  • Sony Electronics Inc. – AIBO product family
  • The LEGO Group – MindStorms™ product family
  • VTI Technologies Oy – SCA620 series z-axis accelerometer family

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

selected international research groups and projects 1 of 3
Selected International Research Groups and Projects 1 of 3
  • Carnegie Mellon University HCI

- GM/CMU Project: Driver-Vehicle Interface

- Manipulation in a Virtual Haptic Environment Based on Magnetic Levitation

- Robotic Assistants for the Elderly

  • ETH
    • Perceptual Computing and Computer Vision Group

- Smart-Its[with Lancaster University (UK), University of Karlsruhe (GER), Interactive Institute (SWE) and VTT (FIN)]

    • Wearable Computing Laboratory

- Wearable Microsensor Network

- Advanced care and alert portable telemedical MONitor (AMON)

  • Max Planck Institute for Biological

- HapSys - High-Definition Haptic Systems

- CogVis - Cognitive Vision Systems

- ECVision

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

selected international research groups and projects 2 of 3
Selected International Research Groups and Projects 2 of 3
  • MIT Media
    • Context-Aware ComputingChrysler 300M IT Edition, Context-Aware Tables, Disruptive Interruptions, Electronic Necklace
    • Human DesignLearning Humans, MIThril, Project Zaurus, Shortcuts
    • Nanoscale SensingHigh-Resolution Interferometric Accelerometer
    • Object-Based MediaSmart Architectural Surfaces
    • Responsive Environments

Design Principles for Efficient Smart Sensor System, Functional Integration for Embedded Intelligence, Modular Platform for High Density Wireless Sensing, Wearable Badge

    • Robotic Life

Sensate Skin, Sociable Robots

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

selected international research groups and projects 3 of 3
Selected International Research Groups and Projects 3 of 3
    • Tangible Media

Door Collision Avoidance Sensor, Tangible Bits

  • Harvard BioRobotics

- Remote Palpation Instruments for Minimally Invasive Surgery

- Vibrotactile Sensing and Display

- Force Feedback in Surgery: An Analysis of Blunt Dissection

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

selected finnish research groups and projects
Selected Finnish Research Groups and Projects
  • Tampere Unit for Computer-Human Interaction, University of Tampere
    • Multimodal Interaction Group
      • Tactile User Interfaces
      • Multimodal Interface for Persons with Low Vision and/or Hearing Impairment
      • Recognition and Synthesis of Faces, Gestures, and Actions
  • Tampere University of Technology
    • Personal Electronics group
      • Smart Home
      • Wearable Computing
      • Smart Clothing

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

companies and research groups in oulu
Companies and Research Groups in Oulu
  • VTT Electronics
    • Advanced Interactive Systems
      • Interactive Intelligent Electronics (IIE)
  • University of Oulu/Department of Electrical and Information Engineering
    • Machine Vision and Media Processing Unit
    • Optoelectronics and Measurement Techniques Laboratory
  • Polar Electro Oy
  • Idesco Oy

Proximity/focus sensing Smart Phone interfaces:

  • J-P Metsävainio Design Oy
  • MyOrigo Oy

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

future developments
Future Developments
  • In near term we will see “sensing” slowly become a mainstream feature in man-machine interfaces
  • Nanotechnology will offer new possibilities because then sensors are so unnoticeable
    • We won’t know if we have drunk or eaten a sensor
    • People’s acceptance?

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors

thank you
Thank you!
  • Any questions?

ISTD 2003, Sensing & Sensors