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Roy Shilkrot Thesis Defense: Designing Assistive Finger Augmentation Devices

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Pattie Maes
Roy Shilkrot

Wearable computers are becoming a widespread reality. Driven by a human quest for sensorial ultrability (ultra-ability) and control of our environment and bodies, we search for ever intimal solutions to increase our innate physical capacities using technology. Finger-wearable devices for augmentation are nowadays part of the mainstream wearable fashion and research agenda, because of their uniquely convenient placement on the human body and proximity to the most sensitive of limbs—the fingers.

This thesis proposes a consideration of finger augmenting devices as a new class of instruments, rather than an opportunistic approach for positioning sensors and actuators. Out of a comprehensive survey of the work on finger augmentation, Roy Shilkrot puts forward a working definition for finger augmentation and a classification framework for future designs. Additionally, he contributes a set of design guidelines for creating new finger-worn devices, arising also from his own work. He presents four designs of finger-augmenting systems, their technical underpinnings, evaluation methods and theoretical contributions to this endeavor.

Assistance is ubiquitous throughout the spectrum of technological benefit, advancing those with specific needs for recovery or rehabilitation, as well as those looking to go beyond human ability. This cross-cutting design principle for human-computer interfaces is uncontested yet underutilized. This thesis conceptualizes the Assistive Augmentation spectrum as a metaphor for the flexible interpretability of technology to simultaneously help many communities. The concrete prototypes he presents: EyeRing, FingerReader, Mobile-FingerReader, and MusicReader, exemplify this idea and suggest an inclusive path of technology development.

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Pattie Maes

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