As we move into homes and work spaces with everything (lighting, sound, blinds, security, conferencing etc) controlled centrally by a singular remote or interface on a phone, tablet or wall control, the amount of cables and wires we can actually see is reducing drastically. However, there are just some pesky cords that we cant seem to get rid of, be it USB hard drives, phone chargers or that fancy lamp we just had to have. As such, the Inventors at MIT have found a way to make those cables doubly useful using Cord UIs.
This brand new technology drew inspiration on how a cord could be used as an interface, by looking at a water hose, which can be detached, knotted shut, or pinched to change how the water comes out of it. Why couldn’t this serve as a metaphor for how the cords and cables in our lives work, too?
Pinching can be thought of as stopping the flow. In the case of headphones pinching the cord replaces the Play/Pause button. So if you listening to music and someone looks like they might be talking to you, pinch the cord to pause your music
Knotting cables adjusts the flow rate so with a lamp, the cord would have a sensor. As such knotting would dim the light or turn it off completely
This one is a step up from pinching. Its synonymous to stopping the flow. If you placed a book on the power cord of your laptop you could turn it off. Or if you have limited bandwidth, placing pressure on your ethernet cable would ensure your data was running without you.
I reckon you could think of this feature as a break in the current flow. The power strip turns on and off according to kinks in the cable. Using a micro controller and a cable that detects electric currents, they designed an interaction that turned the cord into a power switch. Kink the cable and the light turns on, do it again and the light turns off.
I happen to be one of those people that are prone to yanking out USBs from the computer (bad habit). With this technology, sensors detect a stretch in the cord and communicate that the USB is about to come out and it ejects automatically from the system (Now that’s cool).
As a whole, technology is moving towards more wireless applications so chances are everything would be wireless before this technology hits the mainstream market. Still CordUIs would be cheap and easy for companies to do today. The sensors they used for the project are cheap and plentiful, and although they used an attached Arduino (a simple, programmable circuit board) to more easily program their cables, the interactions could be achieved with simple analog electronics. So I think its worth exploring.
However for the cables you can definitely do without seeing, smarter is better. Integrate your technology solutions into one platform. WSE would be more than happy to help you achieve that seamless integration.