How an Innovative Mobile Interaction Concept Could Benefit Enterprises

Innovative mobile interaction with body movement.

Enterprises are adopting mobile devices more quickly than ever. According to a recent Gartner CIO study, Mobile has gone from the #3 area of focus in 2011 to the #2 CIO priority in 2012. While mobile is bringing huge opportunities to enterprise applications, it also brings new challenges. One of these challenges is safety, particularly in industrial environments where workers must be focused on their immediate surroundings and often wear cumbersome safety gear that can interfere with use of a mobile device.

A newly conceived mobile interaction concept presented at MobileHCI (Human-Computer Interaction) 2012 offers a way to make mobile applications more accessible to industrial workers while reducing the risk of injury caused by inattention or removal of safety gear.

The concept, called Body-Centric Interaction (BCI), envisions a set of mobile interactions centered around the user’s body. Rather than having to focus on the screen to interact, the user is able to perform simple movements to trigger specific actions. For example, users can touch a device to their wrist, shoulder, pocket, or knee. The can also move the device away from them or towards them in specific directions to interact. These interactions could be easily performed by a worker checking quality on an assembly line, for example, without having to type, remove their gloves, or defocus from their immediate environment.

BCI could also be used by managers timing or coaching employees on factory processes. They could keep a close eye on the work being done, and record data easily without having to look down at a screen–and potentially miss an important moment.

While this interaction method is not yet available as a standard, we believe it could adapted with current sensor technology. Whether you’re building mobile applications for industrial workers or line managers, thinking “outside the screen” when you consider how users could better interact with your app will open up new ways to solve some of the challenges that come with introducing mobile devices into enterprise.

Watch grad student Xiang ‘Anthony’ Chen demo his concept here: Body-Centric Interaction with Mobile Devices