Monday, August 28, 2006

Hand to replace mouse and keyboard

A fingertip device that recognises hand gestures and senses texture is being developed in the US.

The digitiser could one day input information without a keyboard; come in handy for gaming, where it could imitate squeezing a trigger; and be worn to paint on a screen by moving a finger through the air.

The 'Fingertip Digitizer', was developed by mechanical engineer Youngseok Kim and Associate Professor Thenkurussi Kesavadas, director of the University at Buffalo's Virtual Reality Laboratory.

They say it could be used for everything from inputting information into a computer or PDA to transferring the physical characteristics of an object to a computer for design purposes.

"With this device a computer, cell phone or computer game could read human intention more naturally," says Kesavadas.

"Eventually the Fingertip Digitizer may be used as a high-end substitute for a mouse, a keyboard or a joystick."

According to Kim and Kesavadas, other gesture-recognition devices available on the market can sense movement but not force.

And although there are several force-feedback, or haptic devices, none can measure details of dynamic fingertip activities, including acceleration and inertia.

"Our digitiser bridges the contact and non-contact input strategy," says Kim. "We keep track of everything happening on your fingertip."

After all, says Kesavadas, the fingertip is the most intuitive interface humans already posses. We use it to point, push buttons, touch objects and sense textures.

If the wearer touches or traces around an object, the motion data is combined with the force-feedback information to determine the object's shape. It will also know if the person is tapping on a table, scratching or snapping fingers, for example.

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