Tuesday, 16 Oct, 2012 Technology

Latest Invention: Magic Finger - Device that Transforms Any Surface Into a Touch Interface


A group of researchers at Autodesk Research of the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto looks forward to making touch interfaces ubiquitous with the help of their "Magic Finger".

The invention makes it possible to turn virtually any surface into an interface. So far it is just a prototype that requires much work. The device is made from a little Velcro ring that the wearer straps to their fingertip and some wires connecting the "finger" to a box of electronics.

There are also a couple of optical sensors on the ring, one being a low resolution, high-speed sensor that's there to track motion. In addition, the Magic Finger is equipped with a high-resolution camera that can detect up to 32 different types of surface and register 98 percent accuracy.

Thus the gadget can easily recognize that surface it touches and use this data to transform the surface into an interface for devices. It can be programmed to the user's preferences, being able to make non-digital items into digital interfaces. For example, you can mute your smartphone by simply touching the bag it is in.

Besides, the user has the possibility to start an application or send a saved message by touching a certain apart of their t-shirt. Various touch commands and gestures can also be applied to tablet or computer control without touching these devices.

One more interesting feature of the Magic Finger is its ability to recognize artificial textures, i.e. material textures that play the role of QR codes. This feature allows the user to download data from a magazine page by simply touching it.

Researchers hope one day their invention will become a self-contained miniature device. When that happens, the technology can be attached to a ring or introduced under a fingernail.

[via Autodesk]

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