CNET explores tech that is an extension of you

CNET's Lindsey Turrentine and Brian Cooley talk to folks from Fitbit, Nest and Leap Motion about how humans interact with this next generation of tech.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
3 min read

Watch this: The Next Interface: You

Reading your smartphone without needing to look at it. Playing video games with your eyes. Pouring beer using your mind.

These were some of the technologies showcased during CNET's "The Next Interface: You" panel today. CNET editors Lindsey Turrentine and Brian Cooley led a discussion about how humans will interact with devices that use people's bodies instead of traditional input devices.

The discussion included the people behind some of the superstars of this new area of technology -- Fitbit CEO James Park, Nest founder and VP of engineering Matt Rogers, and Leap Motion Founder and CEO Michael Buckwald.

Each talked about how they see their products fitting into people's lives and what that ultimately means for data collection. "This is like unlocking the new area of data," Cooley said.

Park talked about how parents used Fitbit to get their kids to go to sleep on time. The wearable band, tracks things like calories and steps, but it also monitors sleeping patterns. Parents told Park that they've made a competition out of bedtime and their kids compete to see who can fall asleep first. He thinks one day, collecting the data on Fitbit will let doctors diagnose their patients in a more informed, accurate way.

CNET's 'Next Interface: You' panel (pictures)

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"If you collect this data and present it to your doctor, it's pretty informative about how you've been living your life," Park said.

Rogers took the idea to another level.

"I'm looking forward to the day where I don't have to go to the doctors anymore," he said. Rogers said there could be sensors detecting behavior, like how your body is positioned or how you are walking. If your smartphone picks up on something that's not normal, it would alert you that something might be wrong.

Rogers thinks the next steps for his device, Nest -- the digital thermometer system that lets people control the temperature of their home while they are away -- will be more connectivity. He envisions programing people's cars to Nest, so that when they are getting closer to home, Nest will pick up on that and start heating your home.

Rogers shared a story about a user in Arizona who used Nest to check in on his home when a fire broke out in the area. He checked the temperature of his house remotely to make sure his house wasn't on fire.

Buckwald said Leap Motion, which lets people control computers with gestures, users are able to experience video games and social media in ways they haven't been able before and this speaks to what the company is trying to do. The goal, he said, is to feel like your arm is an extension of your computer.

Another technology showcased during the panel was Muse, a headband that reads your brainwaves. It can be used to help people monitor their stress levels and activity and use that information to improve their behavior, according to the company. Ultimately, Muse wants people to be able control appliances in homes. Apparently, it took a step toward that at a party by rigging up a way for people to pour beer with their minds.

Other tech explored was TheEyeTribe, which CNET TV Host Brian Tong demonstrated by playing Fruit Ninja with his eyes, and the Vuzix Smart Glasses, which has a tiny micro display that replicates your smartphone display.

Leap Motion founder and CEO Michael Buckwald, Nest founder and VP of Engineering Matt Rogers, Fitbit CEO James Park talk to CNET Editors Lindsey Turrentine and Brian Cooley. James Martin/CNET