Minput is especially designed for gadgets that are too small for physical input or for a lot of buttons. It uses optical sensors like those found in a mouse, which are integrated into devices, allowing users to input information b

y dragging the gadget across a surface or with gestures.

If the name evokes something familiar, it is because Carnegie Mellon’s Chris Harrison also developed Skinput, with which the new project shares a few phonemes.

Users can also use different motions to interface with the device, for example twisting it to control the volume on an mp3 player or on an image viewer to zoom in or out on a photo. And of course, Minput has the accuracy of a mouse, so it can be used to control a cursor on tiny screens.

"Minput turns out to be a fairly intuitive way to navigate through menus or photo galleries on a device's display without fumbling with tiny buttons or obscuring a small touchscreen with your fingers," said Chris Harrison, a third-year Ph.D. student who developed the method with his faculty adviser, Professor Scott Hudson. "Because we use a pair of sensors, it can respond to a wide range of gestural commands, much like an iPhone or other multi-touch device."

We definitely recommend checking out Harrison’s video demo of Minput, available on his site.

By Mark Alvarez