Researchers at the University of Washington have created a wearable wristband and ring combination that can detect the precise location of the index finger. The system is also able to continuously track the location of someone’s index finger. Researchers say that the ring emits a signal that is picked up by the wristband and allows the identification of the position and orientation of the ring and the finger it is worn on.
The team says that they are thinking about the next generation of computing platforms. They wanted to create a tool that captures the fine-grain manipulation we do with fingers, not just a gesture or where the finger is pointed. They wanted a system that could track the finger completely.
AuraRing is composed of a coil of wire wrapped 800 times around a 3D printed ring. A current is run through the wire to generate a magnetic field that is picked up by sensors on the wristband. Depending on the values the sensor detects, the continuous position and exact location of the ring in space can be determined. That data is then used to determine the finger location.
Scientists on the project chose their magnetic field approach because other methods would require all the position data to be streamed using wireless communications, which consumes a lot of power. They say the power consumption is why most smart rings only detect gestures.
AuraRing consumes only 2.3 milliwatts of power and produces an oscillating magnetic field that the wristband can constantly sense. That eliminates the need for communications from the ring to the wristband. The continuous tracking allows AuraRing to pick up handwriting, which could be used for responses to text messaged. The magnetic field also allows finger tracking when the hands aren’t visible.