Computer scientists have developed an “airwriting” system that uses sensors to record hand movements.
We’ve recently seen a move towards more natural computer interaction, with the ability to scroll through a computer screen with an arm movement or the blink of an eye. This glove, developed by computer scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), enables people to write using gestures.
The “airwriting” system uses sensors attached to a glove to record hand movements, while a computer captures relevant signals and translates them into text. Professor Tanja Schultz and doctoral student Christoph Amma recently received the Google Faculty Research Award for the system.
It offers a new interface for wearable computing applications, which can be integrated seamlessly into the everyday life of the user. Small acceleration sensors and gyroscopes are attached to the thin glove, recording the movements and transmitting them to a computer system via a wireless connection. The airwriting system decodes the letters using a pattern recognition method. For every letter of the alphabet, a statistical model of the characteristic signal pattern is stored, and it also takes into account individual differences in writing style.
The system can currently recognize 8,000 words, including sentences that are written in capital letters. The scientists plan to make the system smaller to increase comfort and user acceptance, and they also hope to integrate the system in smartphones. Christoph Amma said:
Information technology is used anytime and anywhere, but smartphones are still working on the basis of virtual keyboards and small screens. However, gestures allow for new types of input – in particular for mobile devices or devices integrated in clothing. The interaction is embedded seamlessly in everyday life. The airwriting glove is used to write letters into air, as if using an invisible board or pad.