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Car VR and the other weird tech at CHI 2017

CHI 2017, an annual showcase of human-computer interaction hosted by the Association of Computing Machinery, has given us some truly bizarre-looking innovations. Here are a few of my favorites — all no doubt interesting from a technical perspective but still weird to look at and watch in action.

If you live in a cold area of the world, you might like BreathScreen, an ephemeral user interface created with visible breath.

Speaking of tech that involves the mouth, Project Telepathy uses facial electromyography and beamforming speakers to turn words you silently mouth into sound projected directly at a single person. Great for private conversations, not so easy on the face under the massive tracking rig.

One piece of VR tech that sounds especially alarming when you first hear of it is CarVR — as in, virtual reality in a moving car. The videos demonstrating it don’t show the driver using it, which is a relief. CarVR uses the movements of the car to simulate the user’s movement in the virtual world.

And finally, the one that sounds the most physically taxing is the system which provides “Haptics to Walls & Heavy Objects in Virtual Reality by Means of Electrical Muscle Stimulation.” If you touch a wall in VR that doesn’t exist in the real world, an electrical stimulant creates a counterforce, meaning you jerk your arm away rather than phase through the wall. It sounds and looks kind of brutal:

via Spectrum

> Cheek Haptics and Other Weird Computer Interfaces from CHI 2017 IEEE Spectrum