Technology that allows people to write text messages using numbers and letters traced on their palm is being trialed by scientists in the US – a breakthrough that could inspire a whole new era for SMS.
Researchers from Georgia Tech published a video demonstration of its groundbreaking ‘Fingersound’ device Wednesday. It shows how users trace characters on their fingers and palm using the thumb-worn tech. Their ‘written’ message is then transmitted to a nearby computer.
Cheng Zhang, the Georgia Tech graduate student who created the technology, believes it could also be used to discreetly cancel incoming phone calls with a simple gesture. “A ring augments the fingers in a way that is fairly non-obstructive during daily activities. A ring is also socially acceptable, unlike other wearable input devices,” Zhang told the university's website.
The system works using a microphone and gyroscope which detects the signal and transfers the message to the computer screen. According to Zhang, what separates the system from others that respond to actions written on the air is that it uses both sound and movement to identify a user’s intended gestures. This, he says, improves accuracy compared to other systems that look for movement only.
"For instance, to a gyroscope, random finger movements during walking may look very similar to the thumb gestures,” Zhang said. “But based on our investigation, the sounds caused by these daily activities are quite different from each other."
The team is also working on other projects, including ‘FingOrbits’, which allows the wearer to control smartwatch applications by rubbing their thumb on their hand, and ‘SoundTrak’, which allows users to create 3D drawings in the air.
Wearable tech has proved a lucrative and growing market in recent times. According to the figures cited by Techcrunch, the market will have grown around 17 percent by the end of the year, with sales totalling $30.5 billion.