TIKLed and goosed

TIKLed and goosed

Summary: MIT's Media Lab is working on a project designed to improve the speed with which you learn certain kinds of tasks. An expert's movements are recorded to millimeter precision using an optical motion capture system, then compared to a novice's attempts at the same movements.

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MIT's Media Lab is working on a project called TIKL (Tactile Interaction for Kinesthetic Learning), which is designed to improve the speed with which you learn certain kinds of tasks (things like ballet, Tai Chi, unleashing the proletariat, etc.). An expert's movements are recorded to millimeter precision using an optical motion capture system, then compared to a novice's attempts at the same movements.

In real time, the system determines how the expert's movements differ from the novice's and gooses him (the novice) with small vibrating actuators in such a way that he knows what to correct. The approach apparently results in significantly improved learning rates (not to mention a certain jumpiness). It also requires that you wear a form-fitting Lycra body suit festooned with cabling and electronics--not exactly calculated to relax you.

So what?

The way we teach physical tasks hasn't changed much over the millennia. You listen; you watch and imitate; and occasionally someone will grab one of your limbs and move it around. Often, there's helpful verbal abuse. But that's pretty much been the repertoire since time immemorial. TIKL, however, opens up new possibilities.

I could see TIKL as an augmented interface for the Wii video game console, which is already picking up (some of) your motions via the batons. If it could "buzz" the appropriate part of your body whenever you were shot or hit, that might add significant pressure to an already high-adrenaline situation. And a competitive point: never mind your high score--do you play with your buzzers on Mild, Firm or Bone-Wrenching? That would be a particularly important question when you fall into the volcano and all 100 buzzers goose you repeatedly until you can stagger over to the Off button.


There are serious money-making opportunities. How much would people pay for a TIKL session with Tiger Woods? And what if Tiger could be TIKLed and videotaped at the same time? You could sell Wii golf training games that would let millions be coached by the best. Something analogous might work for dog obedience.

Brave new world, indeed, with lots of opportunity...at least, for those of us (small group to which I do not belong) who enjoy being goosed and who, most importantly, don't look too frightening in Lycra.

Topic: Tech Industry

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