HMI Lets Users “Type” Using Just Their Thumb

Ring and Wristband Let Computers “Read” Gestures

Controlling computers and software might become as easy as snapping your fingers.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have invented some wearable technology that will let people control their computers and mobile apps with hand gestures. The invention consists of a ring that emits acoustic chirps which are transmitted through the user’s hand and received by a wristband with the hardware to recognize 22 different micro finger gestures. Sound travel through structures, including the hand, in predictable ways that can be adjusted by changing the position of the fingers and hand.

The gestures are small and non-invasive—as simple as tapping the tip of a finger or posing your hand in the classic “1,” “2,” and “3” formations. Those gestures can then be programmed to perform various commands or inputs, including a T9 keyboard interface, a set of numbers, or commands such as playing or stopping music.

In a test, the ring and wristband accurately recognized hand poses using the fingers on one hand and digits “1” through “10” in American Sign Language (ASL). The device system is also a preliminary step for some form of machine vision that recognizes ASL as a translator. Current techniques that do this use cameras to recognize sign language, but that can be obtrusive and is unlikely to be carried everywhere. The device, FingerPing, is unlike other technologies that requires users wear a glove or a more obtrusive accessory.

The research is a proof of concept for a technique that could be expanded and improved upon in the future.

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