Scientists have founded smart rings and wristbands that can allow users to type on their smartphones using hand gestures.
Using acoustic chirps emitted from a ring and received by a wristband, the system can recognize 22 different micro finger gestures that could be moulded for various commands, including a T9 keyboard interface, a set of numbers, or application commands like playing or stopping music.
The system can accurately recognise hand poses using the bones of the fingers and digits ‘1’ through ‘10’ in American sign language (ASL).
"A wearable is always on you, so you should have the ability to interact through that wearable at any time in an appropriate and discreet fashion. When we're talking, I can still make some quick reply that doesn't interrupt our interaction," said Cheng Zhang, PhD student at Georgia Tech.
The system is also a preliminary step for recognizing ASL as a translator in the future, Zhang added.
Other techniques utilise cameras to recognise sign language, but that can be obtrusive and is unlikely to be taken everywhere.
"If my wearable can translate it for me, that's the long-term goal," Zhang said.
The new system is called FingerPing. This new technology does not require the use of a glove and is limited to just thumb ring or a watch.
Utilising the ring poses, the wearer can achieve up to 22 programmed commands.
The gestures are small and non-invasive, as simple as tapping the tip of a finger or posing your hand in classic "1," "2," and "3" gestures.
"The receiver recognises these tiny differences. The injected sound from the thumb will travel at different paths inside the body with different hand postures," Zhang said.
"For instance, when your hand is open there is only one direct path from the thumb to the wrist. Any time you do a gesture where you close a loop, the sound will take a different path and that will form a unique signature," he said.
Zhang said that the research and discovery of the new technology is a proof of concept for a technique that could be further improved in the future.