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Wrist sensor could replace remotes
Microsoft Research Cambridge/PA
A wrist sensor which tracks the 3D movement of the hand and allows the user to remotely control any device (Microsoft Research Cambridge/PA)
Television remotes and games controllers could be a thing of the past with new technology that can be worn like a wristwatch.
Researchers at Newcastle University and Microsoft Research Cambridge (MSR) have developed a sensor which tracks the 3D movement of the hand and allows the user to remotely control any device.
This means the sensor, which is worn on the wrist, enables users to control electronic items with just a wave of the hand. Mapping finger movement and orientation, the device gives the user remote control anywhere and at anytime.
David Kim, a PhD student at Newcastle University, said: "The Digits sensor doesn't rely on any external infrastructure so it is completely mobile. This means users are not bound to a fixed space. They can interact while moving from room to room or even running down the street. What Digits does is finally take 3D interaction outside the living room.
"We needed a system that enabled natural 3D interactions with bare hands, but with as much flexibility and accuracy as data gloves. We wanted users to be able to interact spontaneously with their electronic devices using simple gestures without even having to reach for them. Can you imagine how much easier it would be if you could answer your mobile phone while it's still in your pocket or buried at the bottom of your bag?"
This week the technology is being presented at the 25th Association for Computing Machinery Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in the US.
At the conference there will be particular emphasis on the possible interaction with mobile phones and tablets.
Shahram Izadi, of MSR, said: "We had to understand our own body parts first before we could formulate their workings mathematically. We spent hours just staring at our fingers. We read dozens of scientific papers about the biomechanical properties of the human hand.
"We tried to correlate these five points with the highly complex motion of the hand. In fact, we completely rewrote each kinematic model about three or four times until we got it just right."
Researchers say one of the biggest advantages of the prototype is that it leaves the hand free to be used, unlike data gloves which are often worn in other virtual reality applications.