Portrait of Scott Saponas

Scott Saponas

Principal Architect

About

I am a Principal Architect in the Medical Devices Group at Microsoft Research. In 2010, I completed my PhD in the Computer Science & Engineering department at the University of Washington where I was advised by Professor James Landay and Dr. Desney Tan. My general research interests are Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp). More specifically, I tend to spend most of my time exploring off-desktop interfaces including Physiological Computing and “Natural User Interfaces.” In my dissertation work, I created new human-computer interfaces by exploring techniques to harness the untapped bandwidth of the human body for physiological interfaces to computing. The focus of my work in this area has been muscle-computer interfaces. This work has led to many publications and coverage by media outlets including being honored as one of Technology Review’s 2010 Young Innovators Under 35.

Projects

Enhancing Input On and Above the Interactive Surface with Muscle Sensing

Current interactive surfaces provide little or no in-formation about which fingers are touching the surface, the amount of pressure exerted, or gestures that occur when not in contact with the surface. These limitations constrain the interaction vocabulary available to interactive surface systems. In our work, we extend the surface interaction space by using muscle sensing to provide complementary information about finger movement and posture. In this paper, we describe a novel system that combines muscle…

Muscle-Computer Interfaces (muCIs)

Established: November 28, 2016

Many human-computer interaction technologies are currently mediated by physical transducers such as mice, keyboards, pens, dials, and touch-sensitive surfaces. While these transducers have enabled powerful interaction paradigms and leverage our human expertise in interacting with physical objects, they tether computation to a physical artifact that has to be within reach of the user. As computing and displays begin to integrate more seamlessly into our environment and are used in situations where the user is not…

Always-Available Mobile Interfaces

We have continually evolved computing to not only be more efficient, but also more accessible, more of the time (and place), and to more people. We have progressed from batch computing with punch cards, to interactive command line systems, to mouse-based graphical user interfaces, and more recently to mobile computing. Each of these paradigm shifts has drastically changed the way we use technology for work and life, often in unpredictable and profound ways. With the…

Workout: Using a Wearable Sensor to Find, Recognize, and Count Repetitive Exercises

Established: November 22, 2016

Although numerous devices exist to track and share exercise routines based on running and walking, these devices offer limited functionality for strength-training exercises. We introduce a system for automatically tracking repetitive exercises – such as weight training and calisthenics – via an arm-worn inertial sensor. Our goal is to provide real-time and post-workout feedback, with no user-specific training and no intervention during a workout. Toward this end, we address three challenges: (1) Segmenting exercise from…

EmotoCouch: An exploration in interactive furniture

Established: September 13, 2014

EmotoCouch is a prototype exploring how furniture could be augmented as part of a smart home. It uses lights, patterns, and haptics to explore possibilities for interactive furniture. Specifically, EmotoCouch was designed to explore how effectively furniture could convey a range of emotions to people around it. We used the Circumplex model of emotion to identify six emotions to covey that span the range of valence and arousal (see below). Based on initial studies and…

Publications

2016

2015

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2011

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Projects

Other

Short Bio

I am a Principal Architect in the Medical Devices Group at Microsoft Research. In 2010, I completed my PhD in the Computer Science & Engineering department at the University of Washington where I was advised by Professor James Landay and Dr. Desney Tan. My general research interests are Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp). More specifically, I tend to spend most of my time exploring off-desktop interfaces including Physiological Computing and “Natural User Interfaces.” In my dissertation work, I created new human-computer interfaces by exploring techniques to harness the untapped bandwidth of the human body for physiological interfaces to computing. The focus of my work in this area has been muscle-computer interfaces. This work has led to many publications and coverage by media outlets including being honored as one of Technology Review’s 2010 Young Innovators Under 35.

Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Always-Available Mobile Interaction Survey Article

Dan Morris , Desney Tan , and I put together an article on Emerging Input Technologies for Always-Available Mobile Interaction. Our article outlines the idea of Always-Available interaction in mobile settings. We also provide a survey of input and output technologies that are relevant to this domain.

Pocket Touch

news logoAt UIST 2011, we presented our PocketTouch paper . In this work, Chris Harrison, Hrvoje Benko , and I tackled creating a capacitive-touch based input device that can work through fabrics. Our goal is to enable phones and other mobile devices to accept gesture and handwriting input without removing those devices from their pocket, bag, or case.

Anne Eisenberg wrote a kind article on PocketTouch in the New York Times.

Wireless Muscle Computer Interface with Dry Electrodes

Wireless EMG BoardWe presented our note Making Muscle-Computer Interfaces More Practical in the Brains and Brawn session at CHI 2010 in Atlanta, GA. This note builds on our previous work in muscle-computer interfaces by tackling the challenges of creating sensing hardware suitable for mobile and off-desktop environments, electrodes that can be put on quickly without adhesives or gel, and gesture recognition techniques that require no new training or calibration after re-donning a muscle-sensing armband.

Tongue-Computer Input

news iconAt UIST 2009 in beautiful Victoria, we presented our Tech Note on our new work prototyping new methods for Tongue-Computer Input. Check out the video below. It is an excerpt from our talk on a new tongue-based input technique. It shows my colleague Dan playing tetris with a wired version of our device. We also have demonstrated the ability to control a motorized chair from our tongue input device. Our latest version of the device is a wireless orthodontic-like retainer.

 Playing Guitar Hero (and other examples of Muscle-Computer Input)

news iconAt UIST 2009 We presented our paper on Muscle-Computer Input . In this work, we are exploring directly using muscles for input in situations (such as carrying objects) where normal physical input devices are inconvient or impossible to use. Kate Greene of the MIT Technology Review wrote up an article about our work on Muscle-Computer Interfaces. She discusses our approach to muscle-sensing for computer input and our paper at UIST 2009.

Following Johhny Lee ‘s post to his Procrastineering Blog about the video figure (shown below) from our paper at UIST 2009, the following websites picked up the story: ACM TechNews, Engadget, Gizmodo, Joystiq, Kotaku, LiveScience, Makezine, Popular Science, Slashdot, and TechRadar. For a longer clip of the Guitar Hero demo, here is a video of me playing Air Guitar Hero. All versions on YouTube: mine, CHI, and TechFlash.

Muscle-Computer Input + Interactive Tabletops = Awesome

news iconWe have a paper combining muscle sensing and the Microsoft Surface at the Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2009 conference. Check out our video to see our interaction techniques in action!

Muscle-Computer Input

news iconCheck out our CHI 2008 paper with Desney Tan , Dan Morris, & Ravin Balakrishnan on Muscle-Computer Interfaces at CHI. New Scientist and the blogosphere gave this work some great coverage.

Our work on Muscle-Computer Interfaces was mentioned in an article in Forbes Magazine by Lee Gomes. His article describes the importance of the keyboard and mouse in our everyday lives and some of the alternative input approaches researchers have explored.

Dr. Bill Crounse, senior director of worldwide health at Microsoft, stopped by Microsoft Research and interviewed several people, including me, about our current research. He wrote and spoke about our work on Muscle-Computer Input in his Health Blog and on Microsoft’s Channel 10.