If you are a user of smartwatch, you will understand that there is a significant drawback using any wearable device with a smaller screen than a smartphone – text input is not really easy.

But it looks like a team of computing engineer at Georgia Tech has the potential solution. It is a smart ring that allows you to trace letters and numbers with your thumb, permitting easy, silent text input even on the tiniest screens.

Cheng Zhang, the Georgia Tech graduate student who created this technology, said, “A ring augments the fingers in such a way that is fairly non-obstructive during daily activities. The ring is also socially acceptable, unlike other wearable input devices.”

How this ring works

The system is called Fingersound and it works pretty simply. The ring has a microphone and an on-board gyroscope which detect when a user places their thumb over their fingers and starts to draw a shape. Once it recognizes the shape, it can give tactile feedback.

Zhang said, “Our system uses sound and movement to identify intended gestures, which improves the accuracy compared to a system just looking for movements.”

“For example, 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 smart ring is easy to use

The team says the result is an always available system that is easy to use. The Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing professor leading the project, Thad Starner explained that “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 complete details of this project were already presented at Unicomp and the ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computing earlier this 2017.

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