Researchers have developed a wearable ring technology that enables its user to write letters and numbers using thumb gestures.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a wearable ring technology, called Fingersound, that allows letters and numbers drawn on human fingers appear on a computer screen.

Through the years, scientists have dedicated their time and effort to develop a system that can be controlled by only using human gestures. A machine that would learn to read and translate our movements into executable instructions. While the concept holds substantial applications, especially in the fields of augmented reality and virtual reality, researchers are still miles away from perfecting the said gesture-based technology.

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Wearable Ring Technology Allows Anyone to Write With Thumb
Fingersound | Georgia Institute of Technology

So, what makes this newly developed tech different?

The system created by the Georgia Tech researchers is actually being triggered by a ring that is equipped with a tiny microphone and gyroscope. The user doesn’t have to move an entire hand for the ring to recognize the letters and numbers. All the person has to do is to strum his hand across his fingers for the hardware to detect the movement.

Ever heard about the Scroll? It’s a ring device developed by a graduate student in London which enables him to use hand gestures to interact with augmented reality. The concept is pretty much the same. If you want to know more about Scroll, you may read here.

Fingersound and Wearable Ring Technology

In a video demonstration released by the researchers, the figures ‘written’ using the wearable ring technology appears on a screen nearby. The researchers said that their technology could be used someday to send messages and phone calls without the need to interact with the mobile device itself physically.

Thad Starner, the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing professor leading the project, explained:

“When a person grabs their phone during a meeting, even if trying to silence it, the gesture can infringe on the conversation or be distracting. But if they can simply send the call to voicemail, perhaps by writing an ‘x’ on their hand below the table, there isn’t an interruption.”

The ring actually works by listening to the distinct sound of a thumb running across the fingers through its microphone and gyroscope. A user can activate it by sweeping the thumb down across the fingers and by tracing predetermined or custom characters like lines, letters, and numbers to input data or give instruction.

Sample thumb gestures that the wearbale ring technology can understand
Sample thumb gestures that the wearables ring technology can understand | Georgia Institute of Technology

“Our system uses sound and movement to identify intended gestures, which improves the accuracy compared to a system just looking for movements,” Cheng Zhang, the Georgia Tech graduate student who created the technology, explained. “For instance, to a gyroscope, random finger movements during walking may look very similar to the thumb gestures. But based on our investigation, the sounds caused by these daily activities are quite different from each other.”

The wearable ring technology was presented by Zhang and his team at the 21st International Symposium on Wearable Computers in Hawaii last September. Both Zhang and Starner believe that Fingersound could also be used in virtual reality, eliminating the need for a user to remove his VR headgear just to input commands using a mouse or keyboard.

“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 said.

Do you think it’s more practical to use a wearable ring technology to send messages or make phone calls without touching your phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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