Advisory Board

T. Scott Saponas, MSc

The MIT Technology Review article Muscle-Bound Computer Interface: Forearm electrodes could enable new forms of hands-free computer interaction said

It’s a good time to be communicating with computers. No longer are we constrained by the mouse and keyboard — touch screens and gesture-based controllers are becoming increasingly common. A startup called Emotiv Systems even sells a cap that reads brain activity, allowing the wearer to control a computer game with her thoughts.
Now, researchers at Microsoft, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Toronto in Canada have come up with another way to interact with computers: a muscle-controlled interface that allows for hands-free, gestural interaction.
A band of electrodes attach to a person’s forearm and read electrical activity from different arm muscles. These signals are then correlated to specific hand gestures, such as touching a finger and thumb together, or gripping an object tighter than normal. The researchers envision using the technology to change songs in an MP3 player while running or to play a game like Guitar Hero without the usual plastic controller.

T. Scott Saponas, MSc was one of the researchers on this muscle-controlled interface and is Ph.D. candidate at the Computer Science & Engineering department at the University of Washington advised by Professor James Landay and Dr. Desney Tan.
His research interests include Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp), and Physiological Computing.
In his current work, he creates new human-computer interfaces by exploring techniques to harness the untapped bandwidth of the human body for physiological interfaces to computing. The focus of his dissertation research is muscle-computer interfaces. This work has led to conference publications at CHI ‘08, UIST ‘09, Tabletop ‘09, and CHI ‘10.
Scott coauthored UbiqStack: a taxonomy for a ubiquitous computing software stack, Enhancing Input On and Above the Interactive Surface with Muscle Sensing, Enabling Always-Available Input with Muscle-Computer Interfaces, VoiceLabel: using speech to label mobile sensor data, Demonstrating the Feasibility of Using Forearm Electromyography for Muscle-Computer Interfaces, VoicePen: Augmenting Pen Input with Simultaneous Non-Linguistic Vocalization, and Devices That Tell On You: Privacy Trends in Consumer Ubiquitous Computing. Read the full list of his publications!
Scott earned his B.S. in Computer Science (with Highest Honors) at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA in 2004. He earned his MSc in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA in 2006. He was awarded a Microsoft Research Fellowship in 2008.
Watch UIST’09: Enabling Always-Available Input with Muscle-Computer Interfaces and Tabletop 2009 Paper: Enhancing Input On and Above the Interactive Surface with Muscle Sensing.